LGBTQ+ book previously pulled from Kent middle school library will return to shelves

Jun 30, 2022, 3:49 PM
Photo from Kitsap Daily News...
Photo from Kitsap Daily News

An LGBTQ book that was previously pulled from a Kent middle school library will go back on its shelves.

The school board voted 2-1 to overturn a decision to ban “Jack of Hearts (and other parts)” from the Cedar Heights Middle School Library. One board member abstained.

The district’s Instructional Materials Committee previously voted 12-3 to recommend removing the book from the middle school’s library.

The main character in the book is from the LGBTQ+ community.

Supporters of the book insist it can help teens and youth struggling with their sexuality. However, others feel the book is sexually explicit and should not be made available to students in middle school.

One school board member, Tim Clark, stood by the IMC’s original decision during a Kent School Board meeting Wednesday night.

“(The Instructional Materials Committee’s) purpose is to review materials to look and see if they work with the age groups assigned and whether they support what the school district is trying to teach,” Clark said. “As a consequence, I am struck with the fact that we’re not actually recognizing the hard work of this committee, and the fact that it was made up of a wide-ranging group of professionals that deals specifically with age groups and their specific needs, and they did their job. I am supporting what the IMC did, I think that’s the way we should handle these things.”

School board president Leslie Hamada, who voted to not ban the book, argued that the book was not harmful to students and should be allowed on shelves.

“I studied the committee’s rubric on analyzing the books. It did follow our middle school standards of healthcare curriculum,” Hamada said. “It did have a theme or a message beyond the provocative parts that could speak to individual students looking and needing that information, and it is free reading.

“It did contain profanity. It did describe sexual activity of high school students … I found the use of drugs troubling. But it happens in all our high schools.”

The decision sparked a heated debate earlier this month and even prompted threats of a lawsuit from the American Civil Liberties Union.

“It’s unacceptable to send the message to queer youth that they can be represented only if they are the right kind of gay,” one supporter said.

“(It is) drenched with pornography and where it should be located is (in) an adult section of a book store,” an opponent said.

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LGBTQ+ book previously pulled from Kent middle school library will return to shelves