Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools says it’s overruling a committee vote and removing a book from its libraries over concerns about explicit content.
The book, “Jack of Hearts (and Other Parts)“ by L.C. Rosen, is being removed “due to the explicit, graphic sexual nature of the novel,” the district said in a statement provided to The Charlotte Observer. The book initially was challenged by Brooke Weiss, a CMS parent and president of Mecklenburg County’s Moms for Liberty chapter. It was among several books that Weiss challenged at Ardrey Kell High School. She appealed a vote by the Central Media Advisory Committee to leave the book on shelves, WFAE first reported.
Weiss told the Observer on Tuesday that Superintendent Crystal Hill made the right call by reversing the decision because the book “glorifies serial underage sex and promotes drug and alcohol use.”
“If parents want their children to read the book, it is available at public libraries and for purchase at book stores,” Weiss said.
The book follows an “out and proud” high school student named Jack Rothman who has a sex advice column, but Weiss said it’s not an issue about LGBTQ+ content.
“If the book’s characters were heterosexual, it would be equally inappropriate for educational settings,” Weiss said.
Decision follows new NC ‘Parents’ Bill of Rights’
The decision comes after CMS became one of the first public school districts in North Carolina to comply with the new “Parents’ Bill of Rights,” a state law enacted in August. Among other things, the state law requires CMS to give parents the right to review library and education materials, including textbooks used in class, and object to them.
CMS’ Central Media Advisory Committee, which voted last month to leave the book in libraries, can be overruled by the superintendent if an appeal is filed within 10 days, according to CMS’ Instructional and Library Media Center Materials policy. That policy was last revised in September following the passage of the new “Parents’ Bill of Rights.”
What’s in “Jack of Hearts (and Other Parts)“
Rosen, the author, describes the plot of the book on his website by saying the character Jack “has a lot of sex — and he’s not ashamed of it.”
“While he’s sometimes ostracized, and gossip constantly rages about his sex life, Jack always believes that ‘it could be worse,’” Rosen’s website states. “But then, the worse unexpectedly strikes: When Jack starts writing a teen sex advice column for an online site, he begins to receive creepy and threatening love letters that attempt to force Jack to curb his sexuality and personality. Now it’s up to Jack and his best friends to uncover the stalker — before their love becomes dangerous.”
Rosen posted a lengthy statement on his website about efforts to remove his book from libraries, saying, “I knew it would be controversial, but I also knew it was needed.” He said that “putting blinders on and hoping your kids won’t know about sex” because the book is removed “isn’t going to help.”
He encouraged parents “to look beyond their shock and reluctance to acknowledge that their teens have sexual desires and instead ask themselves – how can we help them? How can we teach them that if they’re going to act on their desires, they do so safely?”
Like CMS, a book review committee in Las Cruces, New Mexico, voted to keep the book on school district shelves. A public library board in Douglas County, Colorado, also shot down an attempt to remove the book.
Not the first book removal under Hill
It’s not the first time CMS has removed a book over complaints by Weiss. In February, then-interim Superintendent Hill wrote in an email to Weiss that the books “Let’s Talk About It” and “Sex Plus: Learning, Loving and Enjoying Your Body” were removed from Palisades and West Charlotte high schools because of explicit content.
At the time, Hill said, “We were not aware that these books were included in the media center bundle purchased for the opening of our two new high schools this school year.”
In October, WFAE reported the CMS media advisory panel voted to remove “A Court of Frost and Starlight” by Sarah J. Maas because it didn’t have enough literary merit to offset sexual content.