Kent School Board votes against banning book featuring LGBTQ+ content

For months, the district has been weighing whether to ban a book from its middle school libraries.

KENT, Wash. — The Kent School Board voted Wednesday night not to ban any book from middle school libraries. The vote was 2-1 and one board member abstained.

Since January, the district has been considering a challenge for a formal recommendation to have the book Knave of Hearts (and Other Parts) removed. Washington’s ACLU has also gotten involved, threatening legal action if the book is removed.

Parents say Wednesday night’s vote came as a surprise.

“There were a lot of questions about how they would vote, and I think a lot of them paid attention…we thought they would vote that way and it turns out they voted differently,” District Mother Megan Carter said.

The book is about an LGBTQ+ student who is being blackmailed. The book talks about how the main character protects himself without getting the necessary support from his school or some colleagues.

“Knave of hearts (and other parts)” was at Cedar Heights Middle School when she was challenged by Keri Allsop, who claims to be a parent or guardian of a student in the district. The book covers topics such as sex, drugs, and profanity.

A 15-member educational materials committee voted 12 to 3, recommending that the book be removed. School board principal Tim Clark agreed with the committee and was the only vote to ban the book.

“The bottom line is that they did their job,” Clark said, “let’s not downplay these were professionals and they made judgment.”

Board Member Joseph Bento and President Leslie Hamada voted to keep the book. Board member Awale Farah said he had no opinion on the matter and abstained.

The book is not required reading. President Hamada on Wednesday evening expressed an interest in reviewing the district’s policy on controversial books.

“We as a board need to look more closely to get more clarity on how free reading or controversial books or syllabuses are viewed. For me, it’s a different challenge than the day-to-day curriculum work,” Hamada said.

RELATED: Kent School District votes to ban books with LGBTQ+ content

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