Concord-Carlisle Regional School Committee Meeting
Concord-Carlisle Regional School Committee Meeting

Critics seek to recast diversity as porn

By Margaret Carroll-Bergman - Correspondent

A group of concerned community members attended the joint Concord-Carlisle Regional School Committee meeting on Dec. 6 and during public statements spoke out against books they deemed to be threatening to morality and white privilege. A couple of these members sat in the audience and held signs that read, “Porn Harms.”

While some middle school students waited on Zoom to discuss an agenda item addressing the anti-bullying program, “The Playbook Initiative,”sponsored by the Boston Celtics Shamrock Foundation, adults took turns at the microphone reading selections that they termed pornographic from books available in the high school library.

The books under attack discussed themes of LBGQ+ and racial identities.

One of the books that was criticized is “All Boys Aren’t Blue: A Memoir-Manifesto” by George M. Johnson.

Johnson’s book was named a 2020 Best Book of the Year by the New York and Chicago public libraries and Kirkus Reviews, according to TIME Magazine. In the past several months it has been removed from school libraries in at least eight states — none of which are Massachusetts.

“I was writing the book I wish I got to have when I was a youth struggling with the intersections of my Blackness and my queerness, and trying to navigate a society that wasn’t built for me,” Johnson said to TIME. “I also thought it was important that people started to learn that this world exists outside of a heterosexual bubble — so that people who aren’t like us could also learn about people who aren’t like them.”

One of the community members, Carmela Gee said “Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging is the new code word for Critical Race Theory. The school board is deliberately trying to hide their curriculum to further devalue morality.”

According to a document linked from its DEIB web page, “Concord Public Schools and Concord-Carlisle Regional School District do not explicitly teach Critical Race Theory.”

Carlisle resident Rachel Freed, who is also a human rights activist, and an expert on diversity, equity and justice education, attended the meeting on Zoom and said that she was “deeply appalled by what I heard tonight.” 

She said that DEIB is not the same as Critical Race Theory. “Helping children recognize their own identities is critically important to community health and wellness. It is also critical to building belonging, love, and acceptance in our communities.”

Freed, a woman of color, was preempted by a white man, who got up to take the microphone, while she was talking at the meeting.

“This is an example of what white, male privilege looks like,” she told The Concord Bridge.

While it is the school committee’s policy not to respond to public comments during the meeting, school leadership would not comment afterwards on what transpired at the meeting.

Concord-Carlisle’s public relations representative Thomas Lucey wrote in an email to The Concord Bridge, “Dr. Hunter and the School Committee decided not to issue a comment,” responding to the community members’ objections, but did provide a link to the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging page at the school’s website.

Later, Jason Bulger, Concord’s Chief Information Officer, directed a viewer advisory be placed on the online video of the meeting when it was posted on Minuteman Media Network’s (MMN) YouTube account.

Concord Library Director Emily Smith said there is a Collection Development policy that includes a “Request for Reconsideration of Material” form. She has not received one since the policy was approved by the town’s Library Committee in September.

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