Mike Hacham serves board members with a lawsuit
By SUE SUCHYTA
DEARBORN – Residents continued to speak out at the Nov. 14 school board meeting on both sides of the book availability issue, with activist Mike Hachem serving the board with a lawsuit.
Hachem said he filed the suit in the belief that certain school library books violated decency laws.
While the school board indicated in a Nov. 14 press release that some books will be removed from school library shelves as a result of parental challenges, some residents in attendance continued to express concern for what they perceived to be a slow pace with respect to what they perceived to be an issue that could be decided in favor of pulling books from shelves in a more expedient manner.
Other attendees spoke passionately about keeping books available to students that represent LGBTQ+ issues, which they feel serve as a vital lifeline for students facing sexual identity issues, and fear that the call for book removal represents intolerance and will allow homophobia to continue unchecked.
The school board indicated that “The Lovely Bones” by Alice Seabold will stay on high school shelves, while “Eleanor and Park” by Rainbow Rowell will remain in high school libraries but will be removed from middle school libraries.
“Push” by Sapphire and “Red, White and Royal Blue” by Casey McQuiston will be removed from all school library shelves.
The board indicated that no decision has been made on Jason Reynolds’ “All Boys Aren’t Blue” and Juno Dawson’s “This Book is Gay,” but neither book is available to students online through e-book service Sora, and neither were ever physically available on Dearborn school library shelves.
While it was not initially singled out as a book of interest, “Flamer,” by Mike Curato, will remain at the high school level.
Local activist Stephanie Butler stated that she had checked out a controversial library book and planned to intentionally keep it out of circulation.
Other residents who have been vocal about school library books they feel are inappropriate, including Hassan Aoun, who did not hesitate to speak up multiple times during the meeting, and Khalil Othman — who gained his 15 minutes of fame on the Stephen Colbert show after Republican gubernatorial candidate Tudor Dixon used him as an example in a campaign speech — spoke about their frustration concerning the delay in pulling books from shelves that they feel are sexually inappropriate for children.
At the same time, advocates for inclusion, tolerance and support for the LGBTQ+ community reiterated the importance of books that reflect all people and their preferences, not just those in the cisgender, mainstream mode, and said they fear increased homophobia if books are not available to inform and educate students.
Trustee Hussein Berry, who was recently re-elected to the school board, urged residents to review the media review guidelines and to exercise opt out choices, which allow parents to decide what their children may see without taking away content from other students.
Board President Roxanne McDonald said that while they appreciate the parents who are working with the board to address concerns about books in school libraries, they want to continue to create a safe, welcoming environment for the diverse group of students in the district.