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LGBTQ books under review by Poway Unified

CBS 8 spoke to parents who want the books removed, and the educators who are fighting against the effort.

POWAY, Calif. — Retired educators are fighting an effort by some parents to remove certain books from their libraries in the Poway Unified School District

The district confirms two LGBTQ books are now under review. 

“A parent must sign a permission slip to allow child to watch a PG movie in class, yet they can check out these books,” said Rachelle Babler. 

The Poway mother addressed the school board during a Sept. 8 meeting.  

Babler and another mother spoke in front of the board, asking to remove the books Gender Queer and Fun Home.  

CBS 8 spoke with Babler who said she has a list of 100 other books that should also be removed.  

“Anything that we consider, or we think that is age inappropriate, sexually explicit that has nudity, profanity, any of those type things I don't feel are appropriate for the schools to have,” said Babler.  

Babler says since then, the district took action. 

“The two books that were removed that I was told were Gender Queer, and which is been deemed pornographic and Fun Home," said Babler.

CBS 8 reached out to the district and a spokesperson wrote in an e-mail statement: 

As it pertains to those specific titles, (Fun Home and Gender Queer), they are going under review by the District review committee due to parent complaints around pervasive vulgarity and lack of educational suitability. Staff has checked out copies of the books so they can read the books in advance of the District review process. 

“I was furious, I was absolutely furious because if you are going to remove books or take books out of curriculum there’s a process,” said Julia Ruggieri, retired Poway educator.  

Ruggieri, along with other retired educators and librarian clerks got word about efforts to remove titles and is adamantly against any removal of books and literature such as To Kill a Mockingbird and Of Mice and Men.  

“Those books are classics. We shouldn't ban them, we should learn from them and have a great discussion,” said Dianne Park, Poway resident and retired educator.  

Poway Unified wrote, “Of Mice and Men and To Kill a Mockingbird remain part of the supplemental literature list that teachers can choose to teach from, and students can read.” 

“I believe in diversity, and I believe there is strength in diversity. In my tent everyone is welcome,” said Ted Callan, Poway resident.  

Poway is not alone, efforts to remove books from school libraries are happening across the country. 

Pen America, a non-profit that fights to keep books on the shelves, says from July of 2021 through march of 2022, there were nearly 1,600 actions taken in school districts to ban more than 1,100 titles.

Poway Unified says no books are banned from its libraries.  

Retired teachers hope it stays that way.  

“Banning books that might help kids or better understanding is not helping,” said Ruggieri. 

The retired educators plan to be at the next scheduled board meeting on October 13. 

WATCH RELATED: Poway Unified school board votes to allocate $10M to repair AC units (Sep. 2022).


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