Marietta City Schools board upholds decision to ban book

The Marietta City Schools Board of Education voted 6-1 Thursday to keep its ban on the book titled "Flamer" by Mike Curato.
Published: Nov. 16, 2023 at 7:59 AM EST|Updated: Nov. 17, 2023 at 9:50 AM EST
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MARIETTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - The Marietta City Schools Board of Education is maintaining a ban on the book titled Flamer.

The board had banned the book back in September, but a parent appealed that decision, so a special meeting was held Thursday morning to consider the appeal.

“I’m not comfortable with the board telling my kids what they can and can’t read. I think that decision belongs to the parents,” said Kayla Sargent, the mother who appealed the ban.

Atlanta News First was at the meeting, which lasted only about a minute. All but one school board member voted in favor of upholding the superintendent’s ban on Flamer.

The novel by Mike Curato follows a queer Filipino teen struggling with self-hate and identity while at summer camp. The book was banned due to a number of themes the board deemed inappropriate for school.

“There’s sexual explicit nature, pornographic nature, and the suicide,” said School Board Member Jason Waters. “There are good qualities to that book, I just don’t think it needs to be in the library.”

“It is extremely graphic and pornographic and inappropriate for minors,” said Becky Simmons, who has three sons in Marietta City Schools. “Their job is to have boundaries and to have standards. They did a great job.”

Mother Kayla Sargent appealed the decision, saying there’s no sex in the book.

Sargent was at Thursday’s meeting but was not called on to discuss her 16-page appeal. She fears this ban is just the beginning and thinks the district should leave parents to decide what their children do and don’t read.

“I trust the parents in this district to be engaged with their students, to react to what they need or what they don’t need from the library,” said Kayla Sargent, Marietta City Schools parent who appealed the book ban.

“They are very welcome to get it from amazon, the public library, just, it does not help with our education system and the school board made a great choice,” said Simmons.

Flamer is one of the most banned books across the country, according to literature advocacy group PEN America.

“There are 40 million books, maybe more, in the Library of Congress. There are 20,000 books in the Marietta Library. We have to pick 20,000 and I just don’t think it should be one of the 20,000,” said Jason Waters, Marietta City Schools board member.