WILSON COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) — “You are banning books if you vote to remove this and telling yourself that you are not; you are lying to yourself,” Wilson County School Board member Carrie Pfeiffer said during Wednesday night’s meeting. 

It was a passionate argument to keep a book on the library shelves in Wilson County. On Wednesday, Jan. 18, the school board voted on the latest controversial book, “The Perks of Being a Wallflower”.  

The board eventually voted against its removal and the book review committee recommended the book stay on the shelves. However, the school board did vote to move it to a mature reading list, which requires parents to give their children permission before checking it out.

“This is a constitutional issue and choosing to reject this committee’s recommendation is choosing to reject the constitution,” Pfeiffer said. 

“But there is a Tennessee state statute that literally says we can remove books,” school board member Joseph Padilla said Wednesday night. 

Both sides made their case on whether “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” should stay on the shelves in Wilson County high school libraries. Community members pointed out controversial topics.  

“Those concerns regarding the graphic content, sexual activity, assault and battery, rape, violence, and drug abuse,” one community member shared during public comment.  

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“I urge all of you to stop the dog whistle language or protecting our child. No teen or child was driven to become gay, have sex, or do drugs because they read it in a book,” Sarah Moore said while reading a letter from a Wilson County community member.

The final decision was to place the book on a mature reading list after the vote to remove the book failed.   

“Why can’t school be a place where all the sexualization and perversion and drug sex and alcohol…why can’t school be a place where kids go to escape that realm and just focus on learning?” Padilla asked.

However, Pfeiffer said if literature can connect with any child, then it should stay in school libraries.   

 “The first student lost at Green Hill High School was lost to suicide. He didn’t learn about suicide in a book….and if there were another child who perhaps had an understanding of what that child was going through because they read a piece of literature, perhaps something would have been different,” Pfeiffer said.  

Twelve books have been brought forward to the Wilson County school board since April 2022.  

In December, two books, “Tricks” and “Jack of Hearts”, were voted to be removed. They were the only two books officially removed from two Wilson County high school libraries.