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Francis Howell board backs decision to let students access controversial book

Francis Howell board backs decision to let students access controversial book

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ST. CHARLES COUNTY • The Francis Howell School Board on Thursday night upheld a decision to keep a controversial sexual health and education e-book available to middle-schoolers in the district.

Parent Tim Schmidt had filed a formal request this spring to have the book, “It’s Perfectly Normal,” removed from the district’s libraries.

But a district committee reviewed the book and determined the middle schools would keep the book available for checkout, but with provisions for parent control. Schmidt appealed that decision to the board, and said he couldn’t understand why officials were standing by their decision despite parental outrage.

An online petition at change.org has 661 signatures against having the book available. Several parents have spoken out against the material, saying it was pornographic, inappropriate for middle-schoolers and promoted sex and abortion over abstinence.

“I have concerns that this book often refers to children feeling sexy,” said Jackie Miller, a social worker with two children in the district. “Do you want your child or grandchildren to feel sexy between the ages of 10 and 13? I would rather my child at age 12 not feel sexy as I do not feel that is perfectly normal.”

Miller asked the board to consider a permission slip sent home so parents were aware of the book.

The board voted 4-2 to keep the book, with Mark Lafata and Amy McEvoy voting against it.

“It’s way too early, way too much information, way too graphic,” Lafata said. “Can we challenge our administration to come up with another book that provides the same information that’s not as graphic?”

Others believed it should remain available.

“I am very confident that this book is not for every student and it’s not for every family,” member Rene Cope said. “However, I’m just as confident that it is valuable for some families as a resource.”

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Jessica Bock is a reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

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