School district sued for refusing to disclose if 'pornographic' books are available to students

Students seen in a high school classroom.
Students seen in a high school classroom. | Reuters/Stephane Mahe

UPDATE Aug. 11 at 11:38 A.M. EDT:In an emailed statement to The Christian Post, Alexander Bumbu of the Pacific Justice Institute said the Broward County Public Schools had agreed to their public records request and, as a result, the PJI decided to voluntarily dismiss the lawsuit.

According to Bumbu, a representative of the school district explained to him that all the listed books were not part of Broward County Public Schools' adopted instructional materials or provided or recommended in the supplemental materials of the school district. Furthermore, according to the school district, the student reading lists were created by individual teachers and were not maintained or tracked by BCPS.

Original report: 

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A Florida school district is facing a lawsuit for allegedly denying a group's records request to investigate whether pornographic books are accessible to students at public schools. 

The Pacific Justice Institute filed the lawsuit in circuit court on behalf of the Florida Citizens Alliance against Broward County Public Schools and some of its staff.

At issue was a records request to find out whether 42 books believed to be too sexually explicit for students were “in any media center, instructional material, or supplemental material in any of the School District’s schools, as well as which (if any) of the listed books were in any reading list suggested or mandated by any School District teacher in the last school year.”

In the lawsuit, a copy of which was emailed to The Christian Post on Tuesday, the school district is accused of violating the Florida Public Records Law.

The list included such titles as: The ABC’s of LGBT+ by Ashley Mardell; S.E.X., Second Edition: The All-You-Need-to-Know Sexuality Guide to Get You Through Your Teens and Twenties by Heather Corinna; This Book is Gay by Juno Dawson; Sex Plus: Learning, Loving, and Enjoying Your Body by Laci Green; and The Gender Quest Workbook: A Guide for Teens and Young Adults Exploring Gender Identity by Rylan Jay Testa, Deborah Coolhart, and Jayme Peta.

After extensive correspondence and about two months of waiting, the school district allegedly refused to grant their records request, thwarting state law.

In their “Prayer for Relief,” the Florida Citizens Alliance asked the court to take “jurisdiction over this matter,” hold a hearing and to grant their request to receive the requested records and “to allow Petitioner to inspect and/or copy these records.”

PJI's Florida staff attorney, Alexander Bumbu, said in a statement on Monday that “BCPS is responsible for monitoring the materials used in its schools, and Floridians have a clear right to see those materials.”

“FLCA is doing what any parent would do if they were concerned about what their child is being exposed to in school. BCPS is undermining Floridians' rights to access public records,” Bumbu said.

“It's imperative that a public example be made of BCPS, to show that public school districts can and should be held accountable for disregarding the right to access public records.”  

The Christian Post reached out to Broward County Public Schools for comment, however, the school district said they do not give comment on "potential, pending or ongoing litigation.”

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