South Carolina governor calls for review to prevent pornographic materials in school libraries

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster is calling for a review of materials in public school libraries after a book in the library at Fort Mill High School was found to have “cartoon style explicit imagery,” according to Department of Education Chief Communications Officer Ryan Brown.

McMaster sent a letter to Department of Education Secretary Molly Spearman asking for a review of “Gender Queer: A Memoir” by Maia Kobabe.

“The book has been removed from circulation in two high school media centers and through our online catalog while the review process is completed,” said Fort Mill Chief Communications Officer Joe Burke. “While the letter references the Fort Mill School District, the Governor is requesting a statewide investigation and is not specifically targeting the district.”

Burke said that the district received a complaint about the book and the review process has begun.

Brown said that “books located in libraries and media centers are not funded by and do not go through the state instructional materials process. They are selected by local school and district officials.”

Brown said that superintendents throughout the state were notified last week to review their library for “Gender Queer: A Memoir” and contacted Fort Mill’s superintendent directly to ask for the book to be removed.

“This is a fitting time for each district to review their own purchased texts including those used in classrooms, libraries, and media centers to ensure they are age and content appropriate,” the Department of Education told districts in a memo. “Schools and districts should not rely solely on publishers’ vetting. We must work alongside students, families, and educators for this process to be successful.”

Brown said that each district has its own policy for review and purchase of library materials but that, in this instance, the district failed to vet the book properly.

“If school personnel had performed even a cursory review in this particular instance, it would have revealed that the book contains sexually explicit and pornographic depictions, which easily meet or exceed the statutory definition of obscenity,” McMaster said. “Thus, I am concerned that further examination may identify additional instances in which inappropriate materials have been introduced into our State’s public schools.”

Brown said that the Department of Education has begun a review of district policies on locally purchased texts and it plans to recommend improvements to those policies.

The governor said that he notified the State Law Enforcement Division so that it could investigate if any state laws were broken.

The governor asked the state Department of Education to create statewide standards for review of library materials to prevent this from happening in the future.

“For sexually explicit materials of this nature to have ever been introduced or allowed in South Carolina’s schools, it is obvious that there is or was either a lack of, or a complete breakdown in, any existing oversight processes or the absence of appropriate screening standards,” McMaster said. “Therefore, I respectfully request that the Department of Education promptly investigate this matter, on a statewide basis, and identify whether any systemic policy or procedural deficiencies exist at the state or local levels, or both.”

This article was originally posted on South Carolina governor calls for review to prevent pornographic materials in school libraries

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