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Palm Coast Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021 2 months ago

School Board member Jill Woolbright turns to Sheriff's Office over 'obscene' book at schools

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Woolbright said she filed the criminal report after Flagler Schools superintendent and board attorney did not inform other board members of her complaint.
by: Brent Woronoff Staff Writer

Updated at 5:45 p.m. Nov. 11

Flagler County School Board member Jill Woolbright has filed a report with the Sheriff’s Office claiming a book that was on the shelves in three district schools violates state obscenity laws.

Woolbright said she recently became aware that four copies of the book, “All Boys Aren’t Blue,” by George M. Johnson, were available in the media centers of the three schools — two copies at Flagler Palm Coast High School, one at Matanzas High School and one at Buddy Taylor Middle School.

(Editor's Note: Since the publication of this story, a source familiar with the school has since told the Observer that the copy of the book that was at Buddy Taylor was removed about two weeks ago; no student had ever checked out the book.)

Woolbright said the book contains sexually graphic material.

“My concern is for the children of Flagler County. This book needs to be investigated as a crime in our media center. This is pretty heavy stuff, violating our own policies. That’s why I felt the need to file the report, so I know it will be investigated.”

JILL WOOLBRIGHT

According to the deputy’s report, which Woolbright filed on Tuesday, Nov. 9, “Two of the books have been pulled from the shelves and another unknown person provided Jill one of the books. One book is still currently checked out by another person.”

The book, which was published in April 2020, is a series of personal essays by Johnson, a journalist and LGBTQ activist, about growing up Black and gay.

According to a description on Amazon.com, "Johnson explores his childhood, adolescence and college years in New Jersey and Virginia. From the memories of getting his teeth kicked out by bullies at age 5, to flea marketing with his loving grandmother, to his first sexual relationships ..."

Woolbright said she was particularly concerned about the book's "detailed descriptions" of masturbation, oral sex and sodomy.

Concerns about the book have been raised by parents around the country. On Wednesday, Nov. 10, the Kansas City Star reported that after the North Kansas City School District removed “All Boys Aren’t Blue” and another book from school library shelves, students launched a petition to protest the actions.

Woolbright said she met with Flagler Schools Superintendent Cathy Mittelstadt and School Board Attorney Kristy Gavin on Nov. 3.

“I wanted to let them know my concerns with the book, and I wanted all the School Board members to be informed by my findings,” Woolbright told the Observer on Wednesday, Nov. 10.

But the other School Board members were not informed as of Nov. 9, she said.

Mittelstadt and Gavin could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Woolbright said school boards are responsible for monitoring media center books, according to Florida Statute Chapter 1006: Support For Learning.

The statute states, “Each district school board is responsible for the content of all instructional materials and any other materials used in a classroom, made available in a school library, or included on a reading list.”

Woolbright said another statute, Chapter 847, prompted her to file the report to the FCSO.

That statute states, “A person may not knowingly sell, rent, loan, give away, distribute, transmit, or show any obscene material to a minor.”

“My concern is for the children of Flagler County,” Woolbright said. “This book needs to be investigated as a crime in our media center. This is pretty heavy stuff, violating our own policies. That’s why I felt the need to file the report, so I know it will be investigated.”

FCSO Public Affairs Officer Melissa Morreale said the report is being reviewed by the Sheriff Office’s Investigative Services Division.

According to the report, Woolbright gave the copy of the book she had from Flagler Palm Coast High School to the deputy and requested that it be submitted into evidence.

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