A Michigan school board suspended its Monday night meeting after members of the Muslim community called for the removal of sexually explicit books from the school district.
Dearborn School Board in Dearborn, Michigan, will resume its meeting Thursday after members of the local Muslim community attended the meeting to protest sexually explicit books in the school libraries that are currently under review.
Meeting attendees also pushed back against the board’s book review policy implemented on Oct. 5 which requires parents to state why they are concerned about a book in the library before it is reviewed by media specialists.
Protestors chanted “vote them out” and held up signs reading “Homosexuality Big Sin” and “Keep Your Dirty Books In The Closet” before the board determined the full meeting room was a fire hazard and decided to suspend the meeting before the public comment period, according to a video of the event posted by the school district.
The school is currently reviewing six books in its school library including, “This Book Is Gay,” a book that gives the “ins and outs of gay sex,” and “All Boys Aren’t Blue,” a descriptive memoir of a queer, back boy.
“You see this frustration growing all across the country and in Dearborn, we’re not tied to the left or the right on this issue,” Hassan Chami, a Muslim parent of a Dearborn student, told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “We believe that education should be impartial. The media is trying to change the narrative that this is about LGBT. It is not. Whether this is a homosexual book or heterosexual book, sexually explicit material is immoral and does not belong in schools.”
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Dearborn Islamic Institute of America leader Imam Hassan Al-Qazwini encouraged the community to attend the school board meeting in a sermon on Oct. 7, according to the Detroit Free Press. Dearborn is nearly 47% Arab American, many of whom are Muslim.
“We don’t need those books in Dearborn and Dearborn Heights,” Al-Qazwini said to the outlet. “Take them somewhere else. The majority rules. If you are the majority of people in Dearborn, you decide for your children. We live in a democratic society. And there are certain tools and techniques with which you can change the law in this country.”
Under the book review policy, a parent within the school district must report the book to a media specialist with details on why the book is not appropriate in the school. Then, five media specialists within the district will consider the parent’s complaint.
The school district also provides parents with an opt-out form to prohibit their child from accessing or checking out any books the parent wants, the policy stated.
“Listen, it’s not just about the books,” Chami told the DCNF. “The sexually explicit material in these books was just a catalyst that brought forward broader concerns about the state of public education today and where it’s at, and that the traditional partnership between parents and public education has been compromised. What you’re seeing now is a grassroots movement of concerned parents try to reassert their right to direct education for the children.”
“Having resources and books in our classrooms and libraries that speak to the diversity of our students and the broader world we share is critical to providing a quality and supportive education,” DFT said in a statement to The Detroit News.