A Leon County mother claims a book in the Hawks Rise Elementary School library – that refers to the sexuality of Billie Jean King – is inappropriate.
Katie Lyon filed a complaint under a new review process recently adopted by the Leon School Board after her 2nd grade daughter brought home a book from her school library titled, “I am Billie Jean King” which discusses tennis player Billie Jean’s life, including her transition to a homosexual lifestyle.
Katie Lyon’s daughter asked her mother questions about the book she brought home in regards to Kings sexuality. Lyon stated in her complaint, “I object to material that discusses being gay and what it means to be gay. This book explains that Billie Jean was married to a man but decided she was gay. It discussed that being gay means if you’re a girl you love another girl, and that you can’t choose who you fall in love with.” She also wrote she believes the material is, “not suitable for elementary students”.
Lyon cited the Parental Rights in Education Act, which critics have labeled as the “Don’t Say Gay” law, during the June 27th hearing. The law prohibits instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in elementary schools. Lyon said the book infringes on rights as parents and noted that the materials in the book is counter to state law and is inappropriate for this age group.
However, Assistant Superintendent of Academic Services for Leon County Shane Syfrett defended the book. During the hearing, Syfrett stated, “The exclusion of one of these profiles just because of the identification of the main subject as a homosexual is not the intention of any state law or statute passed by the Florida Legislature.” He went on to explain that if the book was removed it would limit students and families from material that may only be objectionable to certain families.
Retired principal D.J Wright was selected as the Hearing Officer, and will bring a recommended order to the Leon County School Board within 14 days. Once the School Board has considered the recommended order, the School Board may enter a final order at a publicly noticed Board meeting. If the Board finds the material does to not meet Florida Law, then the material will be removed. The Board’s decision is final.