Kearney Public Schools Statement on Controversial Books

KEARNEY, Neb. (KSNB) – In response to comments made Monday on an Omaha radio station by former U.S. Senate candidate Matt Innis, Kearney Public Schools released a statement on Tuesday regarding controversial gender identity books.

In the statement, KPS referenced comments made by Innis on Omaha radio station KFAB, in which he said that the books “Gender Queer” “It Feels Good to be Yourself” “Brave Face” and “Looking for Alaska” were available in Nebraska. public school, including Kearney. The books refer to topics on gender identity.

In its statement Tuesday, KPS said the books “Gender Queer” and “It Feels Good to be Yourself” were not available at any KPS library. He did, however, indicate that there was a copy of “Brave Face” at Kearney High School. There were five copies of the book “Looking for Alaska” at Kearney High School and one copy of the same book at the Hanny Arram Center of Success.

The statement goes on to say that the district has an obligation to serve students from the LBGTQ community and that the district has a library usage policy that allows parents to determine whether they want their children to read certain books.

The full statement from Superintendent Jason Mundorf, released earlier Tuesday to KPS District Parents is as follows,

“Dear KPS Stakeholders:

It came to my attention yesterday morning that on Scott Voorhees’ morning show airing on KFAB 1110, Matt Innis, a resident of Crete and political hopeful, was asked a series of questions regarding the book ‘GenderQueer’ . This book is the focus of a few Twitter messages between Jane Kleeb and a Nebraska GOP member that deleted the Twitter response to Ms. Kleeb. In the book, there is a sexually explicit image that was the basis of the graphic tweet, and Mr. Innis was asked about the book After some back and forth with the host, Mr. Innis also read excerpts from another book “Looking for Alaska” and said the book was housed at Kearney High School and the Hanny Arram Center for Success as well as many other districts in Nebraska. In addition, Mr. Innis also made a brief mention of the book “Brave Face” and “It Feels Good to Be Yourself”. Mr. Innis discussed the proposed recommended reading levels for the book and asked listeners whether or not these books were in their local public schools and which students they were available to.

After a quick review with our media professionals, the ‘GenderQueer’ book is not published in any Kearney Public School library, nor is the ‘It Feels Good to Be Yourself’ book. The Brave Face book has one copy at Kearney High School, and the “Looking for Alaska” book has five copies at Kearney High School and one copy at the Hanny Arram Center for Success. While many would argue the value of these books for young Readers, the fact is that Kearney Public Schools serves a number of students from the LGBTQ community. We have students who are dealing with internal issues regarding their gender and sexual identity. These books can provide a context in which some student readers may identify with someone (even if it is a fictional character) who has had mental health for many young people.

Our district employs incredibly thoughtful and passionate media specialists who review titles on an annual basis to provide books that engage young readers and reflect the challenges students often face. These media specialists are hardworking professionals who make their media centers a source of learning for all students, not a place of political ideologies or a subversive progressive movement. These are probably people you go to church with or socialize with in your personal meetings. They have thoughtful conversations and review materials selected for inclusion in our libraries. They make tough decisions to appropriately deliver books to young readers while navigating political discussions and having fun with individuals who may or may not have all the correct information.

Kearney Public Schools is incredibly supportive of parents and your rights to determine what materials your children have access to. We have a well defined Library Use Policy which offers parents the opportunity to determine whether they wish to be contacted and to give their consent before their children borrow books from school libraries. This policy is a direct reflection of a proactive effort by Kearney Public Schools to be transparent with their parents and give them the opportunity to choose which materials they would like their children to read or not. To our knowledge, we are one of the only districts in the state to use this policy to meet the needs of our parents.

Our district also gives parents and stakeholders the ability to challenge materials selected for our libraries through board policies and processes. If you believe the district should remove a title from one of our libraries, parents can initiate this process by submitting a formal written complaint to the school principal. A review committee will review the complaint and make a decision on the withdrawal request. Appeal processes are also provided by the superintendent and the school board.

This is a difficult time for students, schools, staff and parents. We remain committed at Kearney Public Schools to providing the appropriate and necessary resources for all of our students to navigate their educational journeys. We do this in collaboration with our parents by offering them the opportunity to participate in determining what they want their children to read. Parental involvement and voice is the foundation of the educational process and we will continue to do our best to accommodate all of our families.

Respectfully,

Jason Mundorf

Superintendent”

About Thomas Thorton

Check Also

Mike Gutter Named Director of Virginia Cooperative Extension, Associate Dean of Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences | VTX

His appointment follows the retirement of Ed Jones, who served as director for nearly a …