Parent group pleads with school board to implement new policy at board meeting
The "Conservative Parents of Grand Haven" group was in full attendance at last night's board meeting to protest the decision made in February by the board to not implement any new policies regarding censorship of books
March 10, 2020
The Grand Haven Area Public School Board drew a large audience to its monthly meeting at Ferry Elementary on Monday, March 9. 31 individuals shared their thoughts with the board during the public commenting time on the book censorship issue brought about by the “Conservative Parents of Grand Haven” Facebook group back in January.
23 individuals spoke to the board in favor of limiting student access to titles they deem sexually explicit in nature to varying degrees. Several people asked the board to remove books entirely from the libraries while others requested a consent form be created for parents to opt their kids into or out of access to these titles.
Eight individuals countered by supporting the school board’s decision made at the last meeting on Monday, Feb. 10 which reiterated the Board’s policy of standing by the decisions made by librarians to retain certain titles in libraries.
“We have existing safeguards in place for parents to have control over what their students consume and we did not see any cause to edit that,” board secretary Nichol Stack said. “I do not think the board will revisit that decision. Personally, considering all the comments tonight, what I heard is that parents want to be able to have control. And we have avenues in place for that to happen already.”
Despite Stack’s stance, community members and parents continued to make pleas requesting a consent form.
“I believe certain books should be placed behind the counter or in a closed-off area where kids have to get consent from parents before checking out these books,” community member Julie Jensen said. “Who would decide what is sexually explicit or not? I think that’s a conversation for a board of parents, teachers and leaders to put together some standards.”
One of the most outspoken individuals opposed to the idea of requiring a parental consent form is Rev. Jared Cramer of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Grand Haven. On Jan. 17, he submitted a column to the Grand Haven Tribune explaining his stance on the issue. He was in attendance tonight and reiterated his points.
“I’m disappointed that a group of parents continues to believe that their standards for the content of books and how those books are accessed should trump those of library associations and trained media professionals,” Cramer said. “I am proud though that our district superintendent and board of education do support our librarians in the work they do curating content.”
A major point raised by Jennifer Stuppy, a prominent spokesperson for the “Conservative Parents of Grand Haven” group, was with regard to the definition of sexually explicit. She clarified her definition of sexually explicit which she previously expressed via Facebook.
“Sexually explicit material is any material that describes or shows sexual organs and a person’s private parts being used in a sexual way,” Stuppy wrote. “Also, books with lewd profanity, extreme violence and sexual language with an intent to sexually arouse a person or speaking of others being aroused sexually.”
Despite the pleas of these individuals, it is unlikely the board will revisit its decision made last month. For parents that are interested in learning more about these policies, you can contact your student’s librarian.