Jill Woolbright, a Flager County School Board member in Florida, has filed a police complaint to authorities demanding for George M. Johnson’s bestselling young-adult memoir to be pulled from her district’s libraries. The book titled “All Boys Aren’t Blue,” weaves together a series of essays from queer Black men about the challenges of growing up throughout adulthood. According to CNN, Woolbright noted in her complaint that she believes having the book accessible in school libraries is a crime and that someone from the district “should be held accountable.”
Four copies of “All Boys Aren’t Blue” were pulled from two high schools and another copy was removed from a middle school campus pending the report. Students are now protesting the stringent recall citing that Woolbright and state officials are attempting to censor their learning materials. On Nov. 16, students, parents, and a few community members gathered outside of the school’s board meeting demanding for the district to take accountability.
“I knew that I had to take action because I’m not going to allow censorship to occur within my school district, and I’m going to fight as hard as I can with other students,” said Jack Petocz, the protest’s organizer, and a 17-year-old student attending Flagler Palm Coast High School. Petocz added that he believed books addressing gender identity should be present in school for students who may not feel supported or seen.
“When I read that book, I identified a lot with Johnson’s struggles, (with) constantly having that conversation brought up as a young kid –– are you gay? and the fear of that resonated with it,” Petocz said.
George M. Johnson has has responded to the censorship of his book and addressed book bans on his Instagram profile:
One board member barked back against Woolbright’s report stating that she did not have the right to file a complaint for the entire school board.
“Ms. Woolbright is advocating for the removal of a number of books from the School District’s media centers based on her perception of their content,” Cheryl Massaro said in a statement posted on Facebook. “Let me make this abundantly clear – I do not support censorship of these highly acclaimed and award-winning teen books! The beauty of books lies within the eyes of the beholder,” she added.
In related news, earlier this month, Texas Gov. Gregg Abbot urged for the Texas Education Agency to develop standards that would help to “shield” students from “obscene” content taught in public school classrooms, a separate report from the outlet noted. The baffling move came weeks before he removed books that he deemed as “pornography” following a complaint from two state lawmakers.