12 Oct

Statement to School Board

My name is Alan Redding, my wife and I have been residents of Bloomington for nearly 25 years, with our three sons attending Bloomington public schools at all levels, including special education. 

To date, the board has heard a number of pearl-clutching narratives about book challenges, that removing even a single book will usher in the dawn of a new Third Reich.  However back in 2018, the Duluth school district removed To Kill a Mockingbird and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn from its curriculum.   It was certainly a controversial action – due in large part by the district not following its own policies.  Although the books could be left on library shelves, both local and national critics still branded it a book ban.   

Controversy aside, it appears democracy did not die that day.  Maybe the reason is this: 

“The Duluth move was supported by the NAACP, with president of the local chapter Stephan Witherspoon saying the books were “just hurtful” and use “hurtful language that has oppressed the people for over 200 years”.  Witherspoon also stated:

“It’s wrong. There are a lot more authors out there with better literature that can do the same thing that does not degrade our people. … “Let’s move forward and work together to make school work for all of our kids, not just some, all of them.” 

And that is why me and other concerned parents are standing up and showing up.  Our kids have identities steeped in their faith, morals, purpose and calling.   It’s not fair to our kids that they have to endure the constant barrage of messaging and material in the school environment that runs counter to their values.  This is far beyond making our kids feel uncomfortable, it is disrespectful and degrading, which is a clear violation of district policies.  We have a responsibility to speak up on behalf of kids and families that are too often intimidated and marginalized on these controversial topics.  That includes Muslim, Jewish, and immigrant families, and the growing numbers in the LGBTQIA2+ community that are fed up with using sexually explicit material to teach gender issues.  

Just like Duluth was searching for a better way to teach important topics, Bloomington schools can also do better and keep its focus on developing diversity of thought rather than sowing division through the intentional or negligent use of explicit books and material.

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