Earlier this week, several schools in Cobb County Schools notified their school staff and parents that they removed books that, according to the communication, contained “highly inappropriate, sexually explicit content.” This announcement comes on the heels of Due West Elementary teacher Katie Rinderle, fired for reading “My Shadow is Purple” to her 5th Grade Class. In the communication sent in the late afternoon of August 21, the school reassured parents they were making “every effort” to ensure that their library only included materials aligned to Georgia standards and “age appropriate” for our students.
Among the books banned were “Flamer” by Mike Curato and “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” by Jesse Andrews. Flamer is a semi-autobiographical graphic novel set in 1995, in a Boy Scouts summer camp, and tells the story of Aiden, who is bullied for his appearance, including acting in a manner considered stereotypical of gay men. “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” is a story of a dying girl that groups like Moms of Liberty wanted to be banned in Humble Independent School District in Texas.
The group, Libs of TikTok, contacted the Cobb County School district on August 19 about why they were offering “pornographic-themed books for students.” The email was sent to Cobb County School Superintendent Chris Ragsdale and listed both books by name.
Two days later, on August 21, John Floresta, Chief Strategy and Accountability Officer, responded, thanking the group for alerting the district. “Frankly, we weren’t aware of the sexually explicit content in these books until your email. Any book, video or lesson which contains sexually explicit content is entirely unacceptable and have no place in our schools, period. Over the weekend, we have removed both books from all of our schools.”
The email communicating the removal of the books to parents came on August 21st at 5:00 p.m.
Cobb County Board of Education school board member Leroy “Tre” Hutchins apologized to teachers after they reached out to him about teaching in today’s climate.
“I am reminded of our dialogue around the Resolution to ban CRT and the 1619 Project. Specifically, I requested a definition so the people we are responsible for; our educators, students and the community would be fully aware of our intentions as a Board. At that moment, my request was denied and we passed the Resolution without a working definition. My fear would be that divisive concepts would become a catch all for controversial topics. Subsequently, the State of Georgia has since clearly defined Divisive Concepts in state law.”