16 Nov

My name is Michael Barg. 

I am a 32 year resident of Bloomington. 

I am speaking in favor of the Petition to remove sexually explicit books from our schools. While I’ve heard many of the speakers in opposition to this Petition, I’ve yet to hear anyone directly address our concerns. Instead, all I hear are cries of First Amendment and “book banning”. Both arguments are false. 

The First Amendment does have limits, including obscenity and child pornography. “Book banning” is the removal of material, otherwise protected by the First Amendment, based upon its content. We’re seeking not to remove books, but to prevent obscene or pornographic books, material not protected by the First Amendment, from entering our schools in the first place.      

Some of these materials have been read aloud in previous listening sessions. Yet I’ve not heard one opponent explain why they are not obscene or pornographic. Rather, the argument made in these sessions and to the public in general has been to use the term “book banning” without providing any detail.  I think we know why. I know of numerous Bloomington residents who have expressed opposition to the idea of “book banning” until they’ve been shown some of this explicit sexual content. “Shocked” or “appalled” are not overstatements of their reactions.    

Our opponents also allege that the exclusion of these books isolates LGBTQ students. This is mischaracterizing the nature of the Petition. We are talking about sexually explicit books of any type, regardless of sexual orientation. There has never been a time when sexually explicit material tailored to heterosexual students has been accessible in our schools, and for good reason.    

These materials are also potentially harmful to students. They can lead to the oversexualization of minors, which studies show contributes to anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues often leading to anti-social behavior. Students can become desensitized to sexual conduct in the same way they become desensitized to violence.    

I submit that those who oppose sexually explicit books in our schools are not a small minority, and that the numbers will only grow as more parents become aware of what their children are being exposed to. 

Thank you.  

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