Erie school board to revisit book ban
Panel wants to ‘continue conversation’ about instructional materials
ERIE – The Erie school board is wading back into controversial waters.
Today, the board will hold a special meeting to take another look at “The Family Book” and other instructional materials for diversity and tolerance lessons.
Last month, the board decided to ban “The Family Book” from classrooms because of one sentence: “Some families have two moms or two dads.”
Parents are divided over the issue.
The board’s meeting agenda includes just one item, which is labeled “instructional materials.” The public will have a chance to comment before the discussion.
Brad Cox, the district’s superintendent, said the board wanted to “continue the conversation” on “The Family Book” and other diversity and tolerance materials. He wouldn’t say why the board was revisiting an issue it had acted upon.
School board member Joe Weaver, who opposed the ban, said he found out about the meeting Tuesday afternoon. He said he was unclear why the issue was coming up again.
Asked how residents see the board’s recent decision, Weaver said, “You have a third in support, a third who oppose and a third who don’t care. That’s really typical.”
Other board members with publicly available phone numbers didn’t return calls for comment.
Aaron Sweeney, the youth minster at Erie Christian Church, said he plans to attend the meeting. He has spoken up on behalf of parents who had issues with the book and the other materials.
He said the meeting was a chance for the board to “touch base with both sides.”
“It’s just a matter of seeing where everyone’s at,” Sweeney said.
Barb Schwamberger, president of Parents, Family and Friends of Lesbians and Gays-Sauk Valley, said she would try to attend the meeting, even though she already had plans for the evening.
“Part of PFLAG’s mission is to dispel myths about the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community. We decided our focus would be youth, so this all fits in,” Schwamberger said.
The Erie school board’s decision has received much publicity, including on Quad Cities television stations and in the Huffington Post, an online newspaper.
Cox said he recommended the ban, adding that it was clear early on that the board wouldn’t support the materials. He said he rarely recommends something he knows the board won’t approve.
Before it acted, the board formed a materials selection committee, which included teachers, to review the materials. A majority of that panel recommended continuing to use “The Family Book.” It unanimously backed using instructional materials from the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, a New York-based group.
The board voted 5-2 against the committee’s recommendations.
The Erie school board meets at 6 tonight at Erie Middle School, 500 Fifth Ave.
The board will discuss and possibly take action on instructional materials, including “The Family Book.”
Call the district office, 309-659-2239, for more information.