Minnesota mother Natalie Sonnek knew parents were complaining about sexually explicit books, but never thought she’d find them in her own child’s school library.
She was wrong.
LaDawn Severin, another local mother, read a page from Call Me Max, a book about a child wanting to transition genders, during the Osseo Area Schools board meeting on May 23. Severin alleged the book was in kindergarten classrooms.
Sonnek decided she wanted to see if there were more “highly sexually graphic” and “sexually violent books” in their district.
“I, like many other parents, trusted our schools. I heard of parents in other states finding highly graphic sexually explicit, sexually violent books in their schools, but I never thought I’d find them in our school,” Sonnek told The Lion. “I was wrong.”
The book depicts “a person giving oral sex to another individual,” Sonnek shared at the meeting.
“If you look at the top you can see a woman’s breast fully being exposed,” she continued. The same book also portrays “an individual between another individual’s legs, saying it ‘tastes delicious.’”
She showed yet another page picturing a boy who is completely naked with his genitals visible.
“I was shocked as a parent to find these books in our school library,” she said. “I believe that our school would never have sexually graphic books available to our students, but as you can see, I was wrong.”
Sonnek then urged parents to be involved in the education of their children, to do their own research and “not assume anything.” She wants parents to have a “voice that represents our children.”
Sonnek also read from a Minnesota statute which is relevant to such content, called Harmful Materials; Dissemination and Display to Minors Prohibited.
“Any picture, photograph, drawing, or sculpture that has an image of a person, human body, or depicts nudity or sexual content any book, pamphlet, magazine, or printed matter which contains sexually explicit, sexual excitement, and sexual conduct is considered to be harmful to minors,” she read.
Sonnek exhorted the school board to review and remove several books which she claims are inappropriate for minors.
In addition to Fun Home, she discussed The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, which describes an adult male’s sexual attraction to the breasts of little girls.
“The buds on some of those saplings. They were mean, you know mean and tender. Mean little buds resisting the touch, springing like rubber. But aggressive. Daring me to touch. Commanding me to touch. I couldn’t, as you must recall, keep my hands, my mouth, off them,” the book reads.
Sonnek also explained how Sold by Patricia McCormick describes prostitution and the rape of a minor.
“She grabs me by the hair and drags me across the room. She flings me onto the bed next to the old man. And he is on top of me, holding me down with the strength of ten men,” it reads.
“I have reviewed a total of 10 books, all of which contain highly sexually graphic material, pornographic in nature and should never be in the hands of minors – and they need to be removed,” Sonnek said.
The other books review by Sonnek include:
- How Beautiful The Ordinary by Michael Cart
- Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
- The Last Night At The Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo
- The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
- Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult
- More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera
“This is not about banning books,” Sonnek emphasized. “This is about making sure that the books in our school libraries are age appropriate.”