SUMNER COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) — Fawn Fernandes has a pretty good selection of books inside the Curious Capybara Book Shop in Hendersonville, including books not everyone in Tennessee wants to see in their children’s schools.
“The majority of the books that they have said are inappropriate are either about black history or Native American or First Nation people,” Fernandes said.
But as a former librarian, restricting books is something Fernandes is not a fan of.
“The kids who are given the choice of what to read have so much more enthusiasm about reading,” she said. “The moment you assign a book or restrict a book, it affects how their relationship with books work.”
Earlier this week at the Sumner County school board meeting, parents and staff debated about banning the book “A Place Inside of Me” from Jack Anderson Elementary School.
But before the conversation could begin, school board member Steven King wanted the board to add an item to the agenda banning another book called “Lawn Boy”.
King read explicit excerpts from the novel written by Jonathan Evision and pushed for the banning of the book that night, saying it violated state law TCA 39-17-911.
The law states:
- It is unlawful for any person to knowingly sell or loan for monetary consideration or otherwise exhibit or make available to a minor:
- Any picture, photograph, drawing, sculpture, motion picture film, video game, computer software game, or similar visual representation or image of a person or portion of the human body, that depicts nudity, sexual conduct, excess violence, or sado-masochistic abuse, and that is harmful to minors; or
- Any book, pamphlet, magazine, printed matter, however reproduced, or sound recording, which contains any matter enumerated in subdivision (a)(1), or that contains explicit and detailed verbal descriptions or narrative accounts of sexual excitement, sexual conduct, excess violence, or sado-masochistic abuse, and that is harmful to minors.
- It is unlawful for any person to knowingly exhibit to a minor for monetary consideration, or to knowingly sell to a minor an admission ticket or pass or otherwise admit a minor to premises whereon there is exhibited a motion picture, show or other presentation which, in whole or in part, depicts nudity, sexual conduct, excess violence, or sado-masochistic abuse, and which is harmful to minors.
- A violation of this section is a Class A misdemeanor.
- It is an affirmative defense to prosecution under this section that the minor to whom the material or show was made available or exhibited was, at the time, accompanied by the person’s parent or legal guardian, or by an adult with the written permission of the parent or legal guardian.
“You have to take each book on its own and really do a study of that book,” said Fernandes.
The motion was voted down with many saying they wanted to learn more about the book and allow it to go through the proper complaint process, something Fernandes agrees with.
“I don’t know that I personally have an opinion either way because I’ve not read the book in its entirety yet, so I can’t make that decision,” she said. “But I am pleased that they are going through the correct process at this time.”
While Fernandes agrees not every book is appropriate for every student, she hopes that choice will be one that is carefully considered.
“Save those challenges for books that really could potentially be harmful for our students,” she said. “Not ones that express an experience that’s just different from yours.”
King wrote on his Facebook page that he sent an email to the superintendent and school board demanding the immediate removal of “Lawn Boy” from Liberty Creek High School, Gallatin High School, and Hendersonville High School.
King said that if the book isn’t removed within 24 hours, he will turn the issue over to authorities.
News 2 reached out to King via email and by phone requesting an interview, but have yet to hear back.