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GOP chairman: Mom ‘shocked’ by books Forsyth school provides. Raymond again suggests calling cops over titles parents find offensive.
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GOP chairman: Mom ‘shocked’ by books Forsyth school provides. Raymond again suggests calling cops over titles parents find offensive.

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The chairman of the Forsyth County Republican Party says an unnamed mother, whose child goes to Vienna Elementary School, told him that the school provided her son access to “sexually graphic reading material.”

In his weekly “Republican Rundown” email, which was distributed Friday, Ken Raymond takes issue with a handful of books, including one Newbery Honor winner, and a biography of Ellen DeGeneres.

If the school board or school administration won’t listen to the mother with complaints, she should call the police, Raymond wrote. He recommended last week that parents call the police if they think teachers are teaching pornographic reading material.

“It’s illegal for an adult to expose children to sexually explicit material,” Raymond wrote Friday. “And making it available may qualify as a federal crime. And parents do not have to surrender the minds of their children to any institution that appears to be teaching them to accept perversion.”

Raymond wrote that the mother of the Vienna student logged on to the reading account of her son and was shocked at some of the reading material made available to students. Raymond falsely claimed that some of the material has been banned by the American Library Association.

As a way to shed light on censorship, the association regularly highlights books that have been challenged. It does not ban books, said Macey Morales, a spokeswoman for the ALA.

Each year, it has a Banned Books Week that it calls an event “celebrating the freedom to read” and compiles a list of that year’s 10 most challenged books. In the past, they have included “Of Mice and Men,” “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “The Bluest Eye” and the “Harry Potter” series.

Among the titles Raymond says shocked the mother were “Olive’s Ocean,” which received the Newbery Honor, a prestigious literary award, in 2004; “And Tango Makes Three,” based on a true story of two male penguins raising a chick together; and “The Biography of Ellen DeGeneres.”

Raymond wrote that the books promote gender fluidity, lesbianism, lewd behavior and profanity. “And we all know the story of Ellen DeGeneres,” he wrote.

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DeGeneres famously came out as a lesbian in 1997, paving the way for more actors to play openly gay leading characters in TV and movies.

It’s unclear what part of Ellen DeGeneres biography the unnamed parent is said to have found offensive.

Raymond encouraged other parents to scan their children’s reading accounts.

“It may explain any recent behavior you’ve been wondering about,” Raymond wrote. “And if you want to expose it, contact me.”

He wrote that the mother doesn’t trust that the school board will have her son’s interest in mind in light of its recent 6-3 vote to continue mandatory masking. He encouraged her to call the police but said he isn’t sure if she will.

School board member Dana Caudill Jones, a Republican, said last week that parents who have concerns about books their children are reading should contact the school board.

Brent Campbell, a spokesman for Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools said Friday that the district had not received any complaints from a Vienna parent about the books on Raymond’s list.

The system does have some of these titles in its school collections, he said, and many of them are available on its online e-book platform.

“Looking at Mr. Raymond’s list, we can say none of these books are a part of any required curriculum or reading,” Campbell said. “They are titles available to students should they so choose to read them.”

Parents are encouraged to take active roles in monitoring the materials their children read in their free time, he said. The district has a process by which parents can formally request for materials to be reconsidered.

“We are very intentional about being inclusive of all types of students and beliefs and carefully evaluate the possible removal of some materials simply because it does not align with the personal or political beliefs of others,” Campbell said. “Censorship can be a slippery slope.”

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@lisaodonnellWSJ

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