7 books pulled from Dearborn Public Schools after parents express concerns

Posted at 11:38 PM, Sep 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-13 12:38:36-04

DEARBORN, Mich. (WXYZ) — Some of the books available to students in Dearborn Public Schools have parents upset. One mom even filed a police report because she feels the reading content was dangerous.

The school district says it has temporarily pulled seven books from circulation. They also restricted access to an e-book app featuring thousands of titles.

Leaders are discussing this very issue in schools across the nation.

Stephanie Butler says she told her daughter to check out a book from the Edsel Ford High School library on Monday titled "Flamer."

It depicts sexually explicit acts between young boys and graphic descriptions.

"You know when you put something into a kid's mind, it makes them want to do it more or try it," Butler said.

Butler has submitted complaints about six different books — some available in person and others through the school's Sora app.

The mom of four says her concerns aren't just about books depicting same-sex people.

"If these were just LGBT romance novels that is completely appropriate," Butler said. "Where I draw the line is teaching them how to actually do the act."

"This Book is Gay" is one title in particular that really upset Butler and other parents. Butler even reported it to the Dearborn Police Department. A spokesperson for the department says the matter is currently being investigated.

Paul Bruce, a former teacher with the district, says the book has educational value. During his time at Dearborn Public Schools, Bruce helped with the school's anti-bullying campaigns.

"It answers so many questions I wish could have been answered for me as a child," Bruce said. "My life would have been so different."

The book covers topics like how to join dating apps and how to talk to people who identify as Christian or Muslim about your sexuality.

"You have to be able to address those concerns," Bruce said. "How do you stay safe? How do you prevent yourself from being abused verbally or physically? And how do you stand up to that when it is being thrown at you?"

Butler says that kind of instruction, especially about dating apps, is dangerous.

"I knew I had to take action before somebody got hurt," Butler said. "I am worried if they do meet somebody (through the apps), they could get rape, kidnapped or trafficked."

Bruce hopes the district won't cave into pressure from Butler and other upset parents.

"We are not banning books, I want to make that very clear," said David Mustonen, who heads communications for the Dearborn Public Schools. "What we are doing is evaluating the books in our inventory."

The district says they have more than 100,000 titles to go through. The process could take a year to complete.

At a school board meeting, Dr. Ross Groover, a consultant for the district's curriculum and professional development, says they are doing more than just pulling seven books.

"We've also removed student access to all e-books that are available through the Sora app and the Wayne consortium and the Dearborn Public Library overdrive collection," Dr. Ross Groover said.

Parents and community members took turns speaking during the public comment portion. Some were for the ban on books and others against it.

"No one has a right to censor someone else except a parent for their child," a concerned citizen said. "As public officials, it is your duty to try to maintain as wide of access to information as possible."

A school board member drew applause from the crowd after saying books help expose students to different viewpoints and lifestyles.

"It is our responsibility to educate students in a manner that they are prepared to go forward as responsible citizens in the adult world," said Mary Petlichkoff, a member of the Dearborn Public Schools Board of Education.

The district says they are finalizing a form, which would allow parents to submit concerns about certain books. This form should be available by Friday, according to Mustonen.

The books in question would then be reviewed by a committee made up of parents, teachers, and media specialists.