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Rapid City parents, teachers speak out about destroying books

Book Banning.jpg
Victoria Wicks
The Rapid City School Board hears from parents, teachers, and students (top). Mary Haan spoke against destroying the books and offered to buy them for $200 (lower left). Rapid City Area Schools teacher Timmi Bubac tells the school board that destroying books is irrational (lower right).

The Rapid City School Board heard from about a dozen teachers, parents, and community members on Tuesday, May 3, who weighed in on a plan to destroy more than 300 copies of five books. Those opposed to the books said they’re pornographic; those opposed to destroying them cited academic freedom and the unconstitutionality of book banning.

Multiple volumes of the five books at issue are on a list of surplus property that includes broken office furniture, outdated printers, and a cart without wheels. Only the books are to be destroyed. The other items are to be sold or recycled.

Rapid City teacher Timmi Bubac told the board that the books are new, purchased last year for senior level language arts. She said the literature is not required reading and was chosen by students.

“Court precedent revealed that book banning infringes on the first amendment rights of parents, teachers, and most importantly our students’ rights to intellectual and academic freedom through the free exchange of ideas, as well as their right to free expression,” she said.

Bubac said it’s irrational to destroy the books rather than donating them.

Carolyn Hoefler favors destroying the books and investigating how they came to be available in public schools.

She handed out copies of images from the graphic novel Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic and described them to the board: “Two women performing oral sex, images of masturbation, and drug usage.”

Hoefler said the images are obscene and can’t legally be distributed to minors.

“There is a difference between teaching what sex is and teaching how to engage in it,” she said. “And that’s what’s happening in this book.”

Shaye Beardsley, a high school senior, said she and most of her friends are 18 years old and should be able to read what they want to read.

She spoke in defense particularly of the book Perks of Being a Wallflower.

“I never felt represented in any of the books that I read,” Beardsley said. “But Perks of Being a Wallflower was one of the first books, actually, that I read that made me feel seen.”

One of the speakers offered to buy the books, more than 350 volumes, for $200. The board discussed accepting her offer, but President Kate Thomas said they needed to first consult an attorney to see if they could legally distribute possibly pornographic materials.

Rapid City freelancer Victoria L. Wicks has been producing news for SDPB since August 2007.