Parent files lawsuit against Columbia County School Board members
EVANS, Ga. (WFXG) - The mother of a Harlem Middle School student has filed a 323-page lawsuit against members of the school board, a teacher, and a principal over what she says is a violation of her parental rights and a book that she claims does not belong on the shelves of school libraries.
The lawsuit, filed by Katie Allen on November 23, alleges her child informed her in January, 2021 that a book she read in her teacher's classroom depicted a kiss between two male characters, one wearing a dress as he portrayed a female character in a school play. The book also depicts heterosexual hugging, kissing, and relationship issues among 8th grade students.
The illustrated book entitled "Drama" has been banned by one elementary school and one junior high school in Texas. Those school boards found the book to be "sexually explicit," and "politically, racially, or socially offensive."
According to the lawsuit, Allen claims she has opted her child out of sex education at the school, citing her "literal interpretation of the Bible" and "sincerely held beliefs" as her reasons for doing so. The lawsuit further states she believes the school board intentionally left off LGBTQ+ material from the list of items requiring parental consent in the school board's sex education curriculum.
Although the school board has offered to restrict Allen's child from borrowing books from the school library, Allen asserts books containing LGBTQ+ themes should be clearly marked as such, allowing her child and others to avoid this topic while still having access to the library's other offerings.
In the lawsuit, documentation shows Allen took several steps to meet with the school and the school board in her efforts to have the book removed from the school. She submitted a petition, requests for review of the book, and she gave a presentation to the school board, who found the book to be "diverse" literature. It was not assigned or required reading for Allen's student, but was available to students during "free-reading" periods in class.
As for labelling books that contain LGBTQ+ material, the school board has said it will consider this suggestion in a future review of its media center policy.
A statement from the Columbia County Board of Education to FOX54 reads, "While we cannot comment on pending legal matters, the Columbia County School District values transparency and partnership with our stakeholders. We encourage parents to be involved in their children’s education, and will continue to work together to provide opportunities to monitor and review educational content as needed. We look forward to continuing to work together with our parents to provide a quality education for each student."
Allen shared with FOX54, "I hope anyone interested in this matter will read the filed petition to fully understand the issues being presented to the court."
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