Amendment to existing media policy denied


(Photo courtesy JonHenry Justice)

   Updates surrounding the recent issue regarding the banning of literature throughout schools across the nation have come to light with the increased discussion of the topic. Throughout Sheridan County, more specifically Sheridan County School District 2, there have been several board meetings in which the topic is discussed among community members, administration and authorities alike. 

   The most recent board meeting took place Monday, May 1, 2023 at the central office located at 201 N. Connor Street in Sheridan, Wyoming. At the meeting, several varying issues were discussed, but a major topic of the meeting was the issue of potentially harmful literature infiltrating schools throughout Sheridan. 

   During the book-related portion of the meeting, they motioned to have public commentary prior to voting on the amendment to policy IJL Library Materials Selection and Access. Throughout the community commentary portion of the meeting, many community members voiced their opinions on the matter. Many gave specific examples of books that contained “sexually explicit content,” one of which was “Red Hood,” a novel authored by Elana K. Arnold. Another read off a list of unanticipated books that a parent group titled “Moms for Liberty,” a group with several chapters across the nation, has put high in their hit list for fighting to ban including: “Call of the Wild,” “Where the Wild Things Are” and even an issue of “Where’s Waldo?”

   A community member attending the meeting commented, sharing her views on how the better prepared someone is to determine right from wrong in their home-life, the more successful they will be throughout life. Exposure to a wider variety of literature will, in turn, create a more well rounded individual.

   Mike Lansing, SCSD2 Board of Trustees member, made several statements regarding the situation and how he believed it should be handled. Shelta Rambur, another newly elected Board of Trustees member, had much to say on the topic when it came time for the board to vote to amend the policy regarding library materials.

   A few ideas were proposed at the meeting prior including options of “opt-in” and “opt-out.” “Opt-In” would mean each parent of an SCSD2 school student would be provided a list of books that may be seen as questionable. The parent can then check the books on the list their child may have access to. The “Opt-Out” option would work in virtually the same manner. Parents or guardians of students would be provided a list of questionable books, but in this case, they would mark off the books that their child was not allowed access to. Both options give parents the right to censor their own child’s access to literature while keeping that control over only their child, no one else’s. Mark Birdman attended the meeting to make a statement. “There should be no problem with, ‘I don’t like that book, I don’t want to read it,’” said Birdman. “There should always be a problem with, ‘I don’t like that book, and you can’t read it.’”

   For many, these options were a way of compromising, hopefully, meeting the needs of everyone, and above all else, providing the safest and most beneficial environment for the students of SCSD2. However, when it came time for the board to vote, the amendment was officially denied.