Clay County school board member Ashley Gilhousen is demanding disciplinary action for “pornographic books” she has found in the district’s libraries.
Gilhousen told Fox News on Wednesday that “we need a mechanism that spells out very plainly who's held accountable for the books that are on the (school library) shelves.”
Her statements follow a June 30 school board meeting that went viral due to a Clay County father attempting to read passages from a book he said he found in a school library that he deemed pornographic – his microphone was cut off abruptly. A school board attorney shut down Friedman because the attorney was concerned lewd content could be broadcast live on the school district’s YouTube channel, according to media reports.
Gilhousen, the District 5 school board member and mother of three, is campaigning for re-election. She said there are 75 books that she is currently working on challenging to remove from the Clay County District School shelves.
“For me as a school board member, obviously, it is alarming,” she told Fox news. “As a mother it is unconscionable.”
Gilhousen said that some of the fault lies with media specialists who meet with publishers to bring in books for school libraries. However, she noted publishers will often add “bonus books” to school orders for top-selling books as a way to increase the number of books on the shelves – some of which are politically driven, she said.
During the June 30 Clay County District School board meeting, the board adopted a state of emergency policy that created a “mechanism so that as soon as a book is challenged, it is removed from the shelf until it is reviewed.”
The Clay County father whose microphone was cut off, Bruce Friedman, is part of a national group called No Left Turn in Education, which keeps a list of books parents have objected to across the country.
To challenge different books, Friedman said he had submitted more than 60 paper forms to have books such as “Lucky” by Alice Sebold – the one he attempted to read at the meeting – removed from school shelves.
“I have to do 800 little things I have to fill out,” he said. “It is not my mess to clean up. You did it, you fix it,” he told the school board.
The emergency policy adopted by the school board is being worded and reworked as the board is now looking to update the manual library media specialists use to filter books. Updates are to be shared on Aug. 4 and a tentative vote on Sept. 8.
School begins Aug. 10 and there are at least 75 books that will be removed from library shelves, pending review by library media specialists and school board members, Gilhousen said.
Some of the books removed and under review, all mentioned by Gilhousen, are “Lucky” by Alice Sebold, “Julián Is a Mermaid” by Jessica Love and “Lawn Boy” by Jonathan Evison, among others.