The Anchorage, Alaska, school board shut down a father who attempted to read from a book approved by the district that he felt included inappropriate material.
The book, “Let’s Talk About It: The Teen’s Guide to Sex, Relationships, and Being Human,” by Erica Moen and Matthew Nolan, includes “advice on watching porn, anal sex, and how to edit nude selfies,” The Daily Mail reported.
Jay McDonald, appearing before the seven-member school board, began by saying, “We hear so much about diversity, inclusion, and equity and how it’s one of the main thrusts, main objectives of the school board and the school district; we don’t often see specific examples of what diversity, equity and inclusion looks like.”
“So today I brought an excellent representation; this is like an archetype of diversity, inclusion, and equity material,” he continued. “It is one the books that was just recently purchased for our libraries. … It’s called ‘Let’s Talk About It,’ by Erica Moen. One of the chapters in here’s about sexting.”
Before he was interrupted by school board Vice President Carl Jacobs, McDonald stated. “Now I’ll just read some of the text here: So before you start sending your naughty masterpieces around the world, take some time to get familiar with photo editing, software, and apps. Digital photos are permanent and impossible to retract once they’re out there, so keep your recognizable features out of them before you share them.’ This is a book for kids. ‘Don’t forget to crop out your face, hide your birthmarks and scars, and edit out your piercings and tattoos, and don’t forget to tell your sweetie how hot they look. Let them know you appreciate the little gift they’ve sent you.”
“Mr. McDonald?’ Jacobs interrupted.
“Yes?” McDonald replied.
“I’m going to interrupt you at this point. It sounds like you have a concern about a book,” Jacobs declared. “I’d be glad to get connected to the superintendent on our team to go through the appropriate process.”
“I’d appreciate if you don’t interrupt my time,” McDonald said.
“Mr. McDonald, I’ve asked you to defer to the superintendent and their team if you have a concern about a book,” Jacobs insisted. “We have a procedure and a process and a team ready to assist you.”
Board member Dave Donley told Jacobs: “Mr. President, I don’t think he’s violated any rules. I mean, he hasn’t used pornography, I mean he hasn’t shown any pornography; he hasn’t shown any bad words.”
“Mr. Donnelly, you can overrule the ruling of the chair if you’d like,” Jacobs responded. “It’s my determination that we should ask Mr. McDonald to go through the appropriate process.”
“Well, I understand suggesting that to him and I think that’s fine, but I don’t think he’s said anything that would cause us to cut off his testimony at this point,” Donley countered.
“I think we have a past precedent in this boardroom which would support my ruling. You’re welcome and I support your right to appeal the ruling of the chair,” Jacobs said.
The board ruled 5-2 to let Jacobs shut McDonald down. Only Donley and fellow board member Andy Holleman voted against Jacobs.
Given one more chance to speak, McDonald pointed out that the book was still being procured by the school district, adding, “distribution of indecent and pornographic materials to minors is a class c felony.”
“I keep getting cut off when I just read these books that are — there are still purchase orders out for these books,” McDonald said. “They’re not old things that were just put on the shelves to rot, they’re things that you’re actively procuring. The first book that I read – I’m gonna bring some of the FOIA documents that I have next time I’m in here. There’s teachers that are actually using it on their reading lists in their classrooms as part of their class material so I don’t want to hear that we’re not giving this to kids. I was at the police department today and I was talking to them about this and what it comes down to is there’s a gray area where they say that – you gotta understand that distribution of indecent and pornographic materials to minors is a class c felony.
“I hope that people understand that,” he continued. “So if there’s the argument that, well, it’s loosely covered by the First Amendment and that’s what you’re hiding behind to give this to students in school, then how can you say, I don’t have First Amendment rights to just read this to adults at a school board meeting. Is it or is it not a First Amendment issue? I don’t understand how it’s appropriate for kids and it’s not appropriate for the school board. I didn’t even say a bad word. It feels a lot like you don’t want parents to be seeing what’s being given to the kids. You’re happy to give this to children – I mean you even host reading times on the weekends. What’s your reading list when you host reading time on the weekends with Felix? You’re happy to give these books to kids; it seems like you’re terrified to give them to parents. And I think it’s an absolute travesty that you cut off my time and don’t even let me have my three minutes. I think you’re breaking your own rules. Thank you.”