Despite fiery opposition, a school district in Pennsylvania approved a new policy to challenge books with “sexualized content” and ensure students are reading “age-appropriate material”.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer:

In a 6-3 vote, after a rally andmore than an hour of public comment — most of which was vehemently opposing the policy — and questions by some board members about its origins, the Republican-dominated board voted to advance the policy that’s raised alarm among civil rights groups.

Board President Dana Hunter, Vice President Leigh Vlasblom, and members Sharon Collopy, Jim Pepper, Lisa Sciscio, and Debra T. Cannon voted in the policy’s favor, saying that they would leave it up to Superintendent Abram Lucabaugh to develop a committee and establish parameters for how books may be selected.

Wielding signs reading “dictators ban books, not democracies,” and “love not hate makes CB great,” dozens of parents, students, community members, educators, and advocates rallied outside the Doylestown school district headquarters Tuesday night ahead of the vote, calling for the board to strike the policy. Many repeated their remarks during public comment before the school board. Only a couple speakers voiced their approval for the policy.

“This is not a ban, this is not censorship, it’s common sense,” said one mother, who said she was “against minors being exposed to sexually explicit content.”

Karen Downer, president of the NAACP’s Bucks County branch, noted that books most frequently flagged for sexual content “tend to include certain themes,” including the history of Black people, LGBTQ topics or characters, and race and racism. The books also are often written by marginalized authors, she said.

The language introduced by the Bucks County district’s school board in May calls for more control from parents to contest books available in school libraries, and outlines that at every grade level, “no materials … shall contain visual or visually implied depictions of sexual acts” or “explicit written descriptions of sexual acts.”

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