A veteran Illinois middle school teacher offered an LBGTQ book for students to read in class a few months back — and when parents found out, they filed a police report against her for child endangerment, Today reported.
A day later Sarah Bonner was placed on administrative leave — after which she resigned, the outlet added.
What are the details?
Bonner, 42, told TODAY that on March 13 she held a “book tasting" for students.
“I wanted to give them a smattering of fiction and nonfiction to choose from on a day that we call ‘Reading Monday,” she added to the outlet. “We just read and celebrate books.”
Among those books was Juno Dawson’s "This Book Is Gay," which Today said is a best-selling nonfiction work billed by its publisher as an "instruction manual" for those coming out as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or trans.
“By Wednesday, I received notice that parents had gotten ahold of pictures from that book that their child had taken in class,” Bonner revealed to the outlet. “By Friday, I was told that parents had filed a police report against me for child endangerment.”
Today said the local chief of police confirmed the report but declined to comment further.
“The notion that I was putting children in danger because of books — I didn’t feel safe,” Bonner added to the outlet. “I knew I couldn’t go back.”
She wouldn't have to.
The next day Bonner received a letter from her school district informing her that she'd been placed on paid administrative leave, Today said.
The outlet noted that it reviewed a copy of the letter, which said in part that the district "recently became aware of certain allegations" against Bonner and was "currently investigating" and that until the investigation was complete, Bonner was told "not to perform any duties for the school district."
Today said it reached out to the district for comment but hadn't heard back at the time of publication.
With that, Bonner told the outlet she chose to resign.
Soon the district held a special board meeting and voted unanimously to accept Bonner’s resignation, Today said.
"If I am a safe place, and I'm leaving, what does that do for our students?" Bonner asked the outlet. "'What about the kids?' has always been a question rooted in everything I do. Thinking about what happens to them was definitely hard."
WGLT-FM wrote about the special meeting in Heyworth where Bonner's resignation was accepted, and the station noted that "This Book Is Gay" also offers "brief descriptions of some sex acts. Along with two cartoon diagrams of sexual anatomy, this gave rise to a wave of parental anger and online harassment culminating in Thursday's meeting."
Heyworth is a small village in the central part of the state, just 20 minutes south of Bloomington.
Bonner added to Today that she understands parents "know their children best" and believes both parents and teachers have that "love and care" in common.
"The difference is that I have that love and care for all students, not just a singular student," she told the outlet. "In regards to the book that was challenged in my classroom, it was a message to the LGBTQ+ community in my room and in my district that they're 'less than.'"
"This Book Is Gay" has stirred controversy in other school districts as well.
This week the Central Bucks School District in the suburban Philadelphia area decided to remove "This Book Is Gay" — among more than 60 others — from its libraries due to "sexualized" content.
In March, the Hillsborough County, Florida, School Board held a special meeting and voted to ban "This Book Is Gay" from all public middle schools in the area.
Hillsborough school board votes to ban 'This Book Is Gay' from middle school librariesyoutu.be
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