Parents demand sexually explicit book banned from NJ school’s summer reading
OLD TAPPAN — A book criticized for being "pornographic" has earned the ire of some Bergen County parents, and the mayor of a nearby town, who are demanding that it be removed from their school's summer reading list.
"All Boys Aren’t Blue" is banned from school libraries in at least eight states, Time magazine reported. Author George Johnson, who is Black and identifies as queer, said in an interview with Time magazine that his autobiographical book is geared toward 14 to 18-year-olds.
"I knew this was always going to happen," Johnson said about his book being banned. It's faced national scrutiny for its passages graphically describing masturbation and Johnson's sexual experiences.
Northern Valley Regional High School at Old Tappan is the latest school to come under fire in connection with the book. The North Jersey school serving around 1,100 students, according to US News, is a five-minute drive from the New York state border.
NVRHS District Superintendent James Santana told New Jersey 101.5 in a statement that the book is not on a list provided by the district. Santana added that "all summer reading is based on student choice."
"I am aware that some parents in a few NV communities are concerned about a book that is available to young adults around the world," Santana said. "What I have learned is that a lot of the parental concerns brought to my attention related to our summer reading list are based on misinformation."
The superintendent recommended that parents talk with their children about reading choices.
"As requested by parents in the past, the district does provide information about where to find award-winning young adult/teen books," Santana said. "It, along with hundreds of other books, may appear on those award-winning lists not curated by the district."
One such award-winning list is the Young Adult Library Services Association's Teens Top Ten. "All Boys Aren’t Blue" won the number one spot on that list last year after voting by readers ages 12 through 18 years old.
Woodcliff Mayor Carlos Rendo, a Republican and a former candidate for lieutenant governor, is calling for parents to go to school board meetings and call for the book's removal.
"It’s time that we take a stand! This is the agenda that Democrats are pushing," Rendo said on social media Wednesday. Rendo raised the alarm after receiving an email from a concerned parent.
"Please consider attending the BOE meeting tonight to let the administration know that sexually grooming children one way or another is deplorable and unacceptable behavior in our district," Rendo added.
However, North Valley schools don't serve students from Woodcliff. Instead, they attend Pascack Hills High School in Montvale.
"I’m not sure why a mayor from a town not associated with our district would be publicly raising concerns about something in the Northern Valley schools without first reaching out to the Chief School Administrator," Santana said.
A similar effort at North Hunterdon-Voorhees Regional High School District to ban two books resulted in a call to the Clinton police last month, the New York Times reported. The books in question, “Lawn Boy” and “Gender Queer,” were also called "pornographic" for including sexual situations, some of which were illustrated.