A school board president in Pennsylvania rejected the tradition of being sworn into office on a Bible, placing her hand instead on challenged LGBT-themed young adult books.
Karen Smith, a re-elected school board member in the eastern Pennsylvania Central Bucks school district, included titles such as Lily and Dunkin, All Boys Aren’t Blue, and Flamer in the stack of books she brought to the Dec. 4 occasion.
“I’m not particularly religious. The Bible doesn’t hold significant meaning for me, and given everything that has occurred in the last couple of years, the banned books, they do mean something to me at this point,” said Smith in a Dec. 5 interview.
Given that more than one of the books Smith chose to include have been challenged in school libraries due to their sexual and graphic nature, critics have described her explanation “disingenuous.”
“Really, no one is actually calling for the banning of books in the sense that we’re saying these types of books should never be printed, that this content should never find its way onto any printed page – that’s just fundamentally dishonest,” David Closson, director of Family Research Council’s Center for Biblical Worldview, told The Lion. “But what we are saying is that there are ideological agendas being shoved into places where they don’t belong, such as first and second grade classrooms.”
Closson pointed to Smith’s decision to replace the Bible with the LGBT books indicative of several key motives, especially “wanting to weigh in on what she views as this crusade by Republicans and conservatives to stigmatize and go after the LGBTQ community – which of course is not the desire of any of these groups in the sense of going after individuals in this community.”
“We’re simply saying that this objectionable content shouldn’t be shoved down the throats of young people and that parents should be the ones that are directing this kind of moral education in their homes,” Closson continued.
All Boys Aren’t Blue contains graphically sexual scenes between two young men, including discussions of pornography – scenes the author even called a “road map.”
“So as important as it was for me to be very detailed about my sexual experiences from childhood to young adulthood, I knew some parts needed to be a road map,” said George M. Johnson.
Similarly, Flamer has faced widespread challenges in school libraries as a graphic novel that centers almost exclusively on topics such as masturbation, pornography, and vulgar conversations that allegedly occurred at the author’s boy scout camp as a child.
“[T]his speaks more fundamentally to this post-Christian culture that we’re living in,” Closson said. “Can you imagine any other officeholder in another generation that would take an oath of office – something seen as sacred and important – on anything but a Bible? But clearly, in a post-Christian world, this school board member now is valuing ideological gamesmanship and virtue signaling over the sacredness of this position.”
Smith’s stunt follows a shift in political power for one of Pennsylvania’s largest school districts, as liberals have seized the reins of the Central Bucks school board after two years of a conservative majority. Notably, the conservative-led school board previously issued a policy prohibiting sexualized content from school libraries and curricula.
Central Bucks is the fourth largest school district in Pennsylvania, serving over 17,500 students.