For security reasons, at least five schools across Hilton Central School district were evacuated after many media outlets in the district received an anonymous note on Wednesday (22 March).
Spectrum News reported that the threat note received stated that explosive devices had been planted in schools due to outrage over LGBTQ+ books being stocked in their libraries. The schools and houses nearby were then advised to evacuate to prevent any destruction that may likely occur.
However, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO), said all the school buildings were searched and found to be safe after more than 5,000 students and staff were evacuated from the schools.
“We take any threat to our community, but especially any threat to children, very, very, very seriously,” MSCO Captain Pat Rojas said, adding that they “came here as fast as we could to determine if this threat was real or not.”
The report says British author Juno Dawson’s This Book is Gay was specifically mentioned in the threat note. The writer claimed that the school district is preparing the children for a purpose by exposing them to books with LGBTQ+ themes.
In his words, Hilton school superintendent Casey Kosiorek said to him the threat could be described as a 'hate crime' because it targeted schools over a book.
“Absolutely, I see it as a hate crime. The book is authored and based on gay individuals. I think that that certainly can be a consideration when people are drawing their conclusions of whether this would be a hate crime," Kosiorek said during a press conference.
While condemning the incident, he explained that the children's social and emotional health have been disrupted, stating that the children's routine of coming to school to learn every day was also affected negatively.
“They [the students] come to school every day and all they want to do is learn. And now they’ve been disrupted. Their social and emotional health has been put in a place now, where parents are having conversations with their children tonight about, ‘what does it mean when someone is going to bomb a school?’
“It’s absolutely irresponsible and it should not be tolerated," he condemned.