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Book in Leon County elementary schools under review for LGBTQ themes

Posted at 7:24 PM, May 10, 2023

TALLAHASSEE, FL (WTXL) — Leon County is currently reviewing the book "I Am Billie Jean King" by Brad Meltzer to see if it needs to be taken off of shelves after a parent filed a complaint on one book found in Hawks Rise Elementary.

John Newman, a parent at Hawk's Rise Elementary, said parents should be able to inquire about books, but worries that taking them off of shelves based on a sole complaint is dangerous.

"I am not entirely opposed to the idea that someone may raise a question and have a piece of literature looked at, but I'd be worried if we tend to side with lets just remove everything that's scaring anybody," Newman said. "I think that that gets a little bit too close to some bad things that have happened in the past "

The book in question is an biography about tennis star Billie Jean King written specifically for elementary school students. The language a parent took issue with is in a line in the book that talks about King's sexuality as a lesbian woman.

The paragraph in the book reads "I fell in love with a wonderful woman named Ilana. You can't choose who you fall in love with. Your heart will tell you."

However, Newman said this does not worry him.

"People with varied sexualities exist. That's a fact of life," Newman said. "I don't personally see that i would need my child shielded from that."

The book, currently undergoing a review process between Leon County School administrators and the parent who filed the complaint.

King's biography still remains on shelves in the district, however, depending on the superintendents decision, this book could be removed from schools in the district.

If the book remains on shelves, Leon County Schools Spokesperson Chris Petley said the parent can appeal the superintendent's decision.

"If the parent following that meeting wants to appeal that decision, then it will go to what is called a third party arbitrator, a non-Leon county schools employee will hear the evidence hear the discussion and then make a decision based on that as well."