Muslim parents in Plano Independent School District are joining calls for district officials to remove sexually explicit books from their students’ libraries and classrooms.
Mohammad Alkurdi is one of those parents.
He organized members of the Muslim community to attend Wednesday night’s packed Plano ISD school board meeting and speak about the issue.
Alkurdi is the father of two Plano ISD students, a daughter in 4th grade and a son in 8th grade.
He got involved after his neighbor, Plano ISD mom Karri Weadon, knocked on his door and asked if his family was aware of the sexually explicit books available to their children at school.
Alkurdi told Texas Scorecard he was “really shocked” and “completely upset” to see the “incredibly explicit content” in the materials Weadon showed him.
Weadon made headlines after her fiery speech at Plano ISD’s October board meeting, but she has been challenging the district to remove explicit books for months alongside other parents and members of the advocacy group Citizens Defending Freedom.
“I was shocked knowing these books were being sneaked into our kids’ libraries without our knowledge,” said Alkurdi.
After talking with his family and then more neighbors about the explicit books and the district’s failure to remove them, Alkurdi said he “started to have an action plan.”
I love my community and have faith in our neighbors. We come from different backgrounds, but we share the same principles of morality. I thought, “Let me share this information. I’m sure they don’t know.”
“I got more proactive,” he said. “This is not acceptable to my faith. We don’t stand for such things, even for more mature people.”
Alkurdi then arranged for Weadon and the Collin County chapter of Citizens Defending Freedom to present the information at two local mosques.
Shannon Ayres, who heads CDF-Collin County’s education advocacy, told Scorecard that people CDF spoke with were upset by what they learned—enough so that at least two dozen Muslims joined Alkurdi at Wednesday night’s school board meeting.
The board room was filled with people of all faiths who waited patiently until the end of the meeting to voice their concerns. Public comments began at 9:55 p.m., and each of the 29 people who signed up to comment was allowed one minute to speak.
“Kids are not the property of the government,” said one Plano ISD father, adding that “explicitly sexual” books are not appropriate for students. “Please remove these books as early as possible.”
“I can’t handle all those nudities,” a substitute teacher told trustees. “It’s too much for us too. Why is morality being shoved under the carpet?”
“Parents should have a right to educate our children in the way we want them educated,” she added.
Several speakers asked about the district’s plans for identifying other books that may need to be removed.
Multiple parents asked for more involvement on reconsideration committees.
“How will we keep checks and balances on the librarians who let these books in, to keep it from happening again?” asked Plano ISD resident Maryann Wylie, who submitted five books for reconsideration. “Parents want to be collaborative with the district.”
Debbie Lindstrom, another local CDF leader, gave specific suggestions for improving the district’s reconsideration process: parents should always have a majority on a review committee, a board member should serve on each committee, any book challenged for sexual content should be immediately removed from library shelves, and a specific time limit should be set to complete reviews.
“It is always our preference to work alongside officials as partners, not adversaries,” Lindstrom told trustees.
Although months of public pressure pushed Plano ISD officials to finally revise their book review policy and remove dozens of sexually explicit titles from campus libraries, parents are continuing to demand accountability.
Ayres told trustees the people who reviewed and approved sexually explicit materials for minors should be held accountable and should not be trusted to serve on future reconsideration committees.
She added that if Plano ISD failed to provide “transparent accountability,” CDF and Plano parents “will have no choice but to take action to address it ourselves.”
Alkurdi also asked trustees to reconsider their process for evaluating books.
“We believe a robust partnership between Plano ISD administration and Plano parents is crucial for fostering a stress-free and secure academic environment focused on nurturing our children without jeopardizing their future by safeguarding against any sexualization of their young minds,” he said.