On Tuesday, parents’ tights Activist Nicole Neily testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee that school districts are forcing parents to file costly public records requests in order to examine their child’s curriculum. Neily was one of a group of five witnesses who testified during a hearing titled “Book Bans: Examining How Censorship Limits Liberty and Literature.”
While being questioned by Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) about her experiences with parents facing uncooperative or openly hostile educational institutions on the subject of parental discretion in education, Neily stated that “Parents are being forced on a regular basis to file public records requests” in order to examine the curriculum being taught to their children.
Parents are being “charged hundreds, if not thousands of dollars” to file the requests. Neily testified that, in her Fairfax County, Virginia school district, she “received an estimate of $35,000 to gain access to materials.”
Beyond public records stonewalling, Neily also testified that parents have been restricted from making educational decisions about their children by school districts and public officials.
Neily described how “in Montgomery County, Maryland, and Dearborn, Michigan, there have been countless Muslim families that have spoken up, because they want the right to opt their children out of sexually explicit lesson plans. They are being denied that opportunity.”
“They are being forced to have their kids read books that are graphic, that are sexual,” Neily said.
For Neily, the issue at stake in the hearing was not the banning of books, but the attempt made by particular public officials to indoctrinate children with sexually-explicit reading materials, without considering parental input or objection. “This is something that parents are concerned with,” she told Sen. Blackburn. “To conflate that issue that I don’t want my child to be forced to read something with a book that is being burned in Nazi Germany is disingenuous and false.”
At another point in the hearing, Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) read aloud sexually explicit passages from several LGBTQ children's books that many parents have requested to be removed from public schools and libraries.
Evidently, it seems that the greatest threat facing America’s youth is not that they will be deprived of essential literature, but that the flimsy charge of censorship will be used to inundate them with sexually explicit materials.