Brookfield School Board Votes To Keep Controversial Book In Library

July 28, 2023 0 By JohnValbyNation

BROOKFIELD, CT — The Brookfield Board of Education voted to continue to allow students access to a book at the center of a months-long controversy.

In a 5-2 vote, at a Special Board of Education Meeting on Wednesday called to specifically address the topic, members voted to keep the “This Book is Gay” by Juno Dawson e-book accessible to students.

The book’s Amazon listing calls it as an “instruction manual.” Its back cover blurb describes the book as where “you’ll find the answers to all the questions you ever wanted to ask, from sex to politics, hooking up to stereotypes, coming out and more.”

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Nine Brookfield residents spoke during the public comment time put aside in the meeting. Five were in favor of providing children access to the book through the school’s technology, and four were opposed.

One parent, among about 30 residents who attended the meeting, called the efforts to remove the book “a coordinated organized attack on LGBTQ+ themes and information. It’s happening here, across our state, around the country, and if you’re an agent of this message, whether you’ve been tricked into thinking it’s something else or not, you’re pushing a bigoted agenda”

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Another parent opposed to providing children access made it clear she did not propose a “ban” on the book.

“The books are available in public libraries… in book stores throughout the country,” she said, but stressed “the books do not belong in school libraries.”

It was a sentiment shared by board member Joy Greenstein, who said, “I don’t believe this is an effort meant to ban books. Anyone who wants access to this particular book … can gain access to it in a public library, Amazon, book stores, et cetera.”

A Huckleberry Hill Road resident said she would “prefer her child’s reference information to come from this collection of resources, vetted by the schools and the Public Library, above any other source.”

Austin Monteiro, who in 2021 ran as an unaffiliated candidate for first selectman in Brookfield, asked the BOE to approach the book without emotion “but with rational thought… not tied to political affiliation…and it’s my hope that on honest reflection, you will determine that the content of this manual is not appropriate for minors.”

At Wednesday’s meeting which ran just under 90 minutes, Board of Education members Greenstein and Michael Murphy voted against the schools providing children access to the book, while Chairman Bob Belden, Debbie Brooks, Sharon Butow, Rosa Fernandes and Amy Foster supported making the book available in the schools

Belden said he read the book three times, calling it “… a great book for the person who is looking for information on decisions they need to make.” He offered to donate his copy of the book to the library “so we have a hard copy.”

In attendance at the meeting, Brookfield Schools Superintendent John Barile said the board adopted an addendum to its library regulations, “Appeals to Reconsideration of Library Materials.” The new guideline “recognizes the right of an individual parent/guardian to request that his/her child’s library selection be limited,” but also states that residents do not have the right to determine library materials for students other than their own.

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