June 4, 2023

Lakeview Gazette

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By mistake, they said a book had taken pedophilia out of schools: sales soared

Jonathan Evison and his book “Lawn Boy”

Brandi Burkman came to the school board meeting Texas A printed speech, a library book in plastic sheets and a growing sense of anger.

The 43-year-old mother of three walked to the stage with her 16-year-old son at the Leander Independent School District board meeting on Sept. 9, 2021. As Bergman began to speak, the young woman held up white signs with phrases scrawled in black marker. They were taken from a book he had discovered in English class the week before and taken home for supplemental reading: Meadow BoyA novel Jonathan Evison.

Burkman’s three-minute speech narrates the narrative passages A sexual encounter between two children 10 years. Citing pages 19, 91, 174 and 230, he told the elders how guys meet in the bushes after a church youth group meeting, touch their penises and have oral sex.

“What kind of Diversity Are you trying to teach my son such things?” Burkeman asked, his voice shaking. “Who is normalizing sexual activity among fourth graders?”.

He did not wait for an answer: “I will tell you who. The Pedophiles”.

Burkman’s statements triggered a tsunami of condemnation that, a year later, would cause the book Meadow Boy According to a Washington Post investigation, at least 35 school districts in 20 states questioned it and it was temporarily pulled from the shelves in nearly half of those locations. Most of those districts — 63% — returned the text to the shelves after a review, while at least four banned it outright. According to The Post, the majority of complaints, 87%, are brought by parents Meadow Boy In the second questionable book of 2021, according to the American Library Association.

Complaints on Meadow Boy It came amid controversy and a historic nationwide uprising Textbook banConflicts arise over what to teach about RasaThe racismThe HistoryThe Sex And this Gender. According to a Post analysis, 25 states have already passed laws restricting what teachers can say or say on these topics. Limits the rights of transgender students At school.

Books.  At the heart of the debate.  (Freepik)
Books. At the heart of the debate. (Freepik)

In many ways, Meadow Boy Key to the book ban movement: It’s a character-centered coming-of-age novel Homosexual, Mexican-American Mike Munoz. According to the American Library Association and PEN America, thousands of books withdrawn from schools in the past two years were written by people of color and LGBTQ people.

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book Meadow BoyAnd the people who chose it as a goal, explains how to sprout Wrong information. Days after Burkman’s speech, a Virginia mother said she was moved by his comments falsely During the school board meeting Meadow Boy Depicts a sexual encounter between an adult male and a 10-year-old boy. His statement, recorded on video, was repeated Social media And in the news, and magnified by prominent politicians, prompted allegations of child abuse in nearly a dozen school districts, The Post found.

For the sequel Meadow Boy Conservative media coverage shows how concern for public education is permeated by political discourse and advocacy by religious and parental rights groups. In response, parents across the country checked school library catalogs, registered for public comment at school board meetings, and filed book challenges.

"Meadow Boy"A book written by Jonathan Evison.
“Lawn Boy”, a book by Jonathan Evison.

And what happened Go to the meadowY It reveals how little room there is for nuance or apology in American political debate. Evison, the author, doesn’t want his book in school libraries, he told The Post in an interview. He was surprised when the American Library Association presented him with an award Meadow Boy An award in 2019 for inspiring teenagers.

Evison He believes some librarians who chose the novel did so because of the award — and if someone recommended it to elementary or middle school children, he says, they might mistake it for a children’s book. Meadow BoyBy Gary Paulsen. (There is no documented case of this combination in the post.)

Mandy Peterson, president of the Nebraska Association of School Librarians, said book purchases are largely based on recommendations from the American Library Association: “We check those award lists the day they come out.” She said librarians often check the association’s recommendations against professional review sites such as School Library Journal and Kirkus Reviews. Meadow Boy High points. Peterson says he doesn’t know any librarian who has confused Evison’s book with Paulson’s. But a few months ago, he noticed that many commentators on the Internet had negatively criticized Paulson’s book for its pedophilia.

Evison His novel, he said, is a study Racial discrimination and aimed at the failures of later capitalism Adults. If schools want to offer the text, he said, they should restrict access to older students.

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“No one under their teenage years is ready for that book,” said Evison. “It has a lot of things for adults.”

“New Meadow Boy There are graphic depictions of sex between men and boys,” he said falsely Tucker Carlson appeared on his self-titled Fox News show in September, shortly after mentioning Langdon’s efforts to ban the book. “So why force it on children? Well, of course, to prepare them Sexual exploitation”.

Parents across the country took notice.

In the gay rights debate?  (EFE/EPA/JAGADEESH NV/File)
In the gay rights debate? (EFE/EPA/JAGADEESH NV/File)

It is impossible to say precisely how each of the 30-plus adults asked the question Meadow Boy Learned about the book. The Post attempted to contact all those who criticized it during school board meetings or filed a formal complaint, and also analyzed videos and school documents. Many did not respond.

Nevertheless, Burkman and Langdon and the news of their activism played an important role.

From the 12 complaints filed against the response, the source of concern could be traced Meadow Boy. In half the cases, parents said they were concerned because the book had received “national attention” or by reading “national news reports.” Three of those parents singled out Burkman or Langdon’s performance in particular. Three parents mentioned hearing about the book from politicians, one from a neighbor, and two parents, including Burkman, who said their son pulled out the text on his own.

Of the 38 speeches and parental challenges to Lawn Boy identified by The Post, at least nine include false claims that the novel depicts an encounter between a man and a boy.

Langdon prompted Mary Ellen Kusela, a 50-year-old mother and substitute teacher in the Katy Independent School District in Texas, to take her out. Meadow Boy From your public library. The book appeared to be “well written but…not suitable for minors”. So, he convinced his school district to withdraw the novel permanently in October 2021. The district did not respond to requests for comment.

“It’s not about canceling people out in this life or being numb to one’s path,” said Kusela, who has never competed in a title before. “It’s about removing the substance Overtly sexual and gross of schools”.

In North Carolina, Chad Slota, a father of three, said he decided to challenge Meadow Boy After reading about the nationwide campaign to get rid of the book in the Wake County public school system. I bought it and read it Meadow BoyHe found it graphic and obscene.

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“My wife and I heard these stories and were curious about what was happening in our children’s schools,” Slota explains. (Wake County officials later decided Don’t take the book)

38 Speeches and Challenges Against Parents Meadow Boy At least nine identified by The Post include false claims that the novel depicts an encounter between a man and a boy.

Langdon admits it today He was wrong about pedophilia. He said it was “unfortunate … if there were other parents who went to school board meetings and repeated that particular misconception.”

But he said if given the chance, he would do it again. Exactly the same way.

In the first days after Bergman’s speech, Avison received a barrage of comments when a video of his remarks garnered more than 30,000 views on TikTok and YouTube. Death threats and messages calling him “Pedophile”Especially through Facebook. It didn’t bother her much, but strangers who swore they were sexually assaulting her daughters did. He kept his accounts private.

Evison Little did he know that he disagreed with all the criticisms of his book. “Too dirty? I agree, who cares. My mother would wholeheartedly agree.”

But he defends passages showing sexual encounters between 10-year-old boys. The story, he says, represents a fundamental step in the protagonist’s process of coming out to his racist and homophobic best friend, Nick. Munoz uses foul language to overcome a moment of extreme vulnerability, he says Evison.

“I don’t think the effect is to glorify the experience,” she said of the sex scene.

It also calls into question the motives of some parents. He suspects they don’t want a marginalized role. Not white and not transgender Try to feel comfortable and find your place in the culture. I think the ultimate goal of these people is to maintain the status quo, and the best way to do that is to not tell these stories.”

According to The Post, he was heartened that most school districts returned the book to their shelves.

He also mentioned selling Meadow Boy They’ve soared in the past year: The paperback is now 100 percent more sold than it was during its first print run in 2018.

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