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Laurel School Board disallows 6 books from high school library

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Posted at 12:50 AM, Jan 09, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-09 11:25:32-05

LAUREL - The Laurel School Board voted Monday evening to not allow six books that have been purchased into the high school library.

Some on the board have concerns about recently purchased books.

The board meeting provided a chance to review those books and the process of how the school district chooses books for the libraries.

The board wanted to review the books as to whether or not they're appropriate for young readers.

The books deal with LGBTQ issues, sexual content and violence.

Three of the books were removed by unanimous, 7-0 votes and three by 5-2 votes.

"We have them," said Matt Torix, Laurel Public Schools superintendent. "They've been processed, being they've been stamped. And then they're not able to be returned."

The Laurel School District is going to have to pay for the books.

So the board's action was whether or not to put the books on the shelves.

One of the books, "Assassination Classroom Vol. 4" by Yusei Matsui, is a part of a manga series that was also recently challenged and reviewed by Billings School District 2 following a complaint from a parent.

The other five titles all relate to the LGBTQ+ community and some have multi-cultural themes. The five titles include: "The Lesbiana's Guide to Catholic School" by Sonora Reyes, "Messy Roots: A Graphic Memoir of a Wuhanese American" by Laura Gao, "Nothing Burns as Bright as You" by Ashley Woodfolk, "A Million Quiet Revolutions" by Robin Gow, and "Crumbs" by Danie Stirling.

During public comment, it was brought up that in 2023 the Montana Legislature passed House Bill 234 which deals with the public display or dissemination of obscene material to minors.

"Public school districts may not sell, deliver or provide any sexually explicit material including written pictured or recorded to anyone under 18 years of age," one woman told the board.

Others also had concerns with the six books.

"Is this ultimately good or bad for my life?" one man said about what students should ask about the books. "Is this reality?"

Another group commented in favor of putting the books in the library.

"Imposing suggested restrictions on books in our school would be a mistake," a Laurel High School student said.

"If parents don't want their kids reading a certain genre or a book, then that is their conversation to be had with their child at home," another student said.

Before the vote, the librarians went over the process of choosing books.

"The researching takes weeks," a librarian told the board. "And then we submit to our school secretary who then takes the list to the principal and gets it approved and then goes to the district order clerk who then places the order."

The board talked about wanting to study that process.

"Are we going to remedy the situation with them coming to us before the purchase?" one trustee asked.