Marietta School Board issues directive to remove ‘sexually explicit’ content from district

The directive comes after two books were taken off the shelves at Marietta High School last week following a parental complaint.
Published: Sep. 12, 2023 at 10:41 PM EDT
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MARIETTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - Tuesday night in a 5-2 vote, the Marietta School Board issued a directive to Superintendent Grant Rivera to remove “sexually explicit material” from the district.

This comes after two books were taken off the shelves at Marietta High School last week following a parental complaint.

“They are comic books that depict masturbation, that depict graphic and pornographic images,” mom Kari Ninness said.

The two books in question are Flamer by Mike Curato, and Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl written by Jesse Andrews.

“I just don’t think that taxpayer dollars should fund sexually explicit materials. Period,” Laura Holder said.

The directive allows the district to review and remove books considered obscene, pornographic, not age-appropriate, or without substantive historical or academic value. Some parents at Tuesday’s meeting disagreed with the directive.

“They keep calling it a book removal, but it’s a book ban. And that’s a non-starter for me. I think you can disagree with a book. You can say I don’t want my kid to read that book. But you can’t say other people’s kids can’t read the book,” mom Courtney Bellman said.

However, the directive allows parents, staff, and students to challenge a decision and argue why a book should or should not be removed from the school system. It’s part of a 3-point plan Superintendent Rivera will now develop.

1. Train staff members to identify inappropriate content

2. Review 20,000 books in the high school library

3. Implement a community feedback system

There was no public comment during the Tuesday night work session, so many parents and students sat silently in the audience and held signs expressing their opinions to the school board.

“I’m definitely a proponent of parents having these conversations and being able to weigh in on whether or not content is appropriate or not,” mom Jenny Storino said.

Though the board passed the directive Tuesday night, Chairwoman Kerry Minervini says this will be a continuing discussion between Marietta Schools and the community.

“The directive is to start the process of discussing what that is going to look like. This was not intended to be a book ban, this was not intended to be a policy. This was intended to start discussions amongst the board of education, the district, Dr. Rivera and our community stakeholders about what we want this process to look like going forward,” Minervini said.

The board also added several amendments to the directive Tuesday night before voting. Some of those include:

  • Adding state law language definition to the directive
  • Adding an amendment allowing public input from a variety of community stakeholders as the directive is implemented
  • Any book that is removed will be brought forward and publicly reported at a board meeting

Read the entire directive below.