FORT WORTH—Fort Worth Independent School District board members are threatening to ban parents from district property for reading a sexually explicit book formerly allowed in district libraries during a school board meeting.
Following backlash from parents over the summer, the district removed over a hundred sexually explicit books children had access to within school libraries.
Among these books was “Flamer” by Mike Curato. “Flamer” is written from the perspective of a child. It includes cartoon characters performing sexual acts on themselves and one another, partial nudity, and explicit behavior.
At the beginning of the 2023-2024 school year, a Fort Worth resident was removed from a school board meeting for reading five words from the book—“who wants my hot weiner”— in front of the adult board and audience.
A month later, FWISD Board Chair Camille Rodriguez sent a letter to the resident, warning him of a potential ban from district property for his “disruption” to the meeting.
The letter reads:
Please be advised that pursuant to Board Policy BED (LEGAL) and GKA (LOCAL), your conduct at the Fort Worth ISD Board meeting on August 22, 2023 posed a significant disruption to the meeting. Specifically, you continued to read illicit excerpts from a book after you had been warned not to do so, and you walked throughout the meeting displaying pages, from a book in the direct line of sight of other community members in the audience. When escorted by the District’s security staff out of the meeting area, you continued to resist their efforts to remove you from the property.
Rodriguez’ letter continued, “Your comments, like those of all of the other citizens who address the Board, are important.”
However, according to Rodriguez, it “is a criminal offense for a person, with intent to prevent or disrupt a lawful meeting, to substantially obstruct or interfere with the ordinary conduct of a meeting by physical action or verbal utterance and thereby curtail the exercise of others’ First Amendment rights.”
The resident was warned that if he repeats this action, “District officials will remove you from the meetings and may refuse to allow you entry to the District’s property at future meetings for a period of time not to exceed two years.”
“If 5 words of the book can’t be read aloud in a board meeting or 2 pages from the book viewed by a group of adults then why in the world was it allowed in front of our children?” Fort Worth activist and mom Hollie Plemons quipped on social media.
According to Cesar Padilla, FWISD Communications Coordinator, “Flamer” has been “permanently pulled from FWISD libraries.”
However, Plemons posted on social media that two FWISD teachers are attempting to bring “Flamer” back:
There are currently 2 women who are advocating for this book to return to FWISD Jr High libraries where innocent 11 year olds & up can access this book without their parents ever knowing. Be very careful taking advice from either of these women or their organization as they advocate for extremely sexual content to be in front of minors & say it’s good for children to read that material. They also have zero understanding or respect for the law, the constitution or morals.
Amy Custer-Ramsey and Sabrina Ball, both parents and taxpayers in FWISD, both posted on social media their support for “Flamer.”
Custer-Ramsey posted that she believes “Flamer” to be “both appropriate and necessary to remain available to students 14+.”
She continued, saying, “It can save LGBTQ+ kids’ lives, build empathy, and help kids with depression or suicidal ideation to feel seen.”
In response, Ball commented, “This is the one I’m going to ask to be put back on 8th grade shelves!”
Texas Scorecard reached out to Fort Worth ISD regarding the threat to ban parents who read such books during board meetings and the teachers who want to return the books to their shelves.
Jessica Becerra, a coordinator for FWISD’s Communications Department, refused to provide a direct answer.
A law signed by Gov. Greg Abbott on June 13 requires the State Board of Education to approve the state mandatory collection development standards by January 1, 2024.
“By April 1, 2024, Vendors will provide an initial list of materials that they rated sexually explicit to TEA. By September 1, 2024, an updated list must be provided to TEA,” Becerra said. “Starting on January 1, 2025, school districts must review the vendor-rated sexually relevant material in the current collection and post a report on the District website.”
Becerra told Texas Scorecard, “School districts and librarians operate under existing, approved procurement, collection development, and reconsideration policies as the 2023-2024 school year begins. Vendors, not librarians or any other district staff, are responsible for rating library materials. Ratings are only applied to material vendors determine meet the definitions of sexually relevant or sexually explicit Material rated sexually explicit by vendors must be removed from the collection. Parental consent for materials rated sexually relevant is needed when vendors provide those ratings. Reconsideration requests follow current, approved district policies.”
“A parent or guardian can request their child’s campus librarian mark any book unavailable for their individual child, ensuring they cannot check it out,” added Becerra. “Students who want to check out school library books deemed ‘sexually relevant’ would have to get parental permission first.”
Texas Scorecard reached out for clarification on a direct statement regarding “Flamer”; however, as of publication, FWISD did not respond.