WILSON County, Tenn. (WKRN) — As Wilson County school board members discussed whether to remove two books from library shelves, a different debate emerged about the challenges some students in the district face.
While discussing removing “The Carnival at Bray” from school shelves because of the book’s deceptions of sexual assault, substance abuse, and mentions of suicide, some members of the board of education defended the book’s place in school libraries.
“It’s their reality, and I think that it’s not only okay, but it is right for them to know that they aren’t the only ones who go through it,” said school board member Carrie Pfeiffer.
Pfeiffer quoted the book’s author Jessie Ann Foley when she explained why this book could be helpful for some older students.
“I wish I could tell you that teenagers don’t experience sexual assault, but that would be a lie and you know it. I wish I could tell you that young people never fall prey to substance abuse, or have to stand by helplessly while a family member drowns in addiction, but that would be a lie and you know it,” Pfeiffer said.
However, another member of the board said the author is trying to make sure her book continues to sell and doesn’t know the problems children in Wilson County face.
“She doesn’t know what happens in Wilson County, Tennessee. She doesn’t know what values we have here. So to take somebody who’s never been here and tell us she knows what’s best for our kids is wrong to me,” said Joseph Padilla.
Other members of the board said they understand that addressing this issue is important to their constituents and, therefore, worthy of the board’s time, but wondered if their time could be better spent concentrating on the kids rather than the books.
“The amount of time and energy that is spent on this, it just seems like if the community were to put this kind of effort into something, that would be a meaningful positive impact for our kids. Addressing the transient students, the homeless kids, the hungry kids could go a long way,” said board member Jamie Farough.
Supporters of removing this and other books from shelves in Wilson County also took time during the meeting to push back against people who say the board is “banning books.”
The board decided to keep “The Carnival at the Bray” and “The Kite Runner” on school shelves at their May 1 meeting.