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More time for the community to consider banning books?

The 45-day public comment period on Library Policy ended on May 23. The next day, we learned it would be extended. What does it mean?




This spring, the LCSD1 Board of Trustees proposed a change to Library Policy and opened a 45-day Public Comment period that ended May 24. The policy would restrict librarians from procuring books that could land on the so-called "naughty list", or books deemed to be "sexually explicit."


This list of sexually explicit books was a result of the last Library Policy change the board approved last December, made at the urging of a tiny faction of people using bombastic rhetoric and misinformation to make their case that educators are harming students by filling library shelves with pornographic materials.


Of course, most of our community understands this is untrue and that our professional expert librarians curate age-appropriate materials for our diverse student body. That's why 77% of the 1,500 comments told the board to leave the policy alone when that policy change was put out for public review.


The board did it anyway, ignoring the overwhelming will of the community, instead following the political agenda of those who wish to vilify our educators and harm public schools.


Along with the so-called naughty list, the new policy also forced the parents of 14,000 students to choose between four options ranging from full to no access to library materials. A public records request further highlights how the community feels about book bans and restrictions.


Among families of high school students, 77% selected full access, and 67% opted for full access among jr. high students. At the elementary level, there has never been sexually explicit content, despite the blatant misinformation used by proponents of the policy.


Trustees who voted to change the policy desperately want to believe they are not banning books. They argued if parents could give their kids full access to books, there was no ban. WYFAF disagrees. In a country where free people read freely, restricting access to books is a ban. Lying to parents about materials in books, compelling them to choose limited or no access, is a banning of books.


The new policy, however, is an undeniable full and total book ban for 100% of students by any definition. If a book like Toni Morrison's Nobel Prize-winning masterpiece The Bluest Eye had been written today, our professional librarians would be barred from procuring it under this policy.


With this policy, it doesn't matter what library option you select, the books would be fully banned from our libraries.


Public comment ended on May 23, with an expected vote on June 3. But something odd is found on the posted agenda. Instead of a vote on library policy, we learned there would be an extension of the public comment period.


On May 24, the Wyoming Tribune Eagle confirmed this extension, shedding a little light on the matter




But what is this delay about? An email from a local attorney, George Powers, sent on Tuesday, May 21, may have contributed to the board’s decision to extend. In the email, Mr. Powers informs the board of their errors with the proposed change. In their latest attempt to ban books, even for students whose families chose full access- this board failed to notice that they were using the wrong version to re-write a policy that they had already re-written (against the overwhelming will of the community). The draft they posted included exemptions for materials with ARTISTIC value, which would have required consideration of language in context. In adopting the December's policy, the board eliminated that consideration because they did not care about the authors’ ideas, only certain words in isolation.


Please read Mr. Power's emails here, as they are part of the public record. We've blurred Mr. Power's email, as he is a private citizen, but not the public emails of elected officials and district employees.




So what's next? It seems the community will have another 45 days to make their voices heard on whether or not books should be banned from procurement by our trusted librarians.


It seems this board has some explaining to do.  Why did they made such an error?  What will happen to the comments submitted in response to their mistaken publication?  Will we all have to resubmit our comments, when the new “corrected” version is published?  A bigger question, of course, is why do they continue to waste our precious resources when they could be addressing so many other issues impacting our district? Among these issues is teacher recruitment and retainment.  How much damage has this board’s library campaign already done?


In the meantime, let's start with the June 3rd Board Meeting, 6 PM 2810 House Ave. Please plan to attend and ask the board to explain the situation and remind them the community does not support banning books.

We should also urge the district to make the comments made during the first 45-day period public as soon as possible. You can request this by emailing rebecca.gill@laramie1.org.


The community overwhelmingly believes that FREE PEOPLE READ FREELY. This is one of the rare issues that transcends political affiliation. Some members of this board think the government should infringe on these rights. Let's keep telling this board to stop this culture war nonsense and focus on the issues actually impacting our district.

And if they continue to ignore the community's will, Election Day is NOVEMBER 5. With three at-large seats up for grabs, we can regain control of this board.


Let's get to work.





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