Twitter was abuzz last week with false indignation from local leftists over a question asked by school board trustee Sandee Everett during a board discussion about adopting the book “Just Mercy” as an approved literature title. Even the Acorn had a toxic and misguided letter on the subject this week.
The issue is that the book contains multiple child rape scenes. During her time in office, Everett has consistently taken the stand that since more than 10% of students have been sexually assaulted or abused by the time they graduate from high school, the district should take steps to protect sexual assault victims from stumbling upon those passages – and possibly being re-traumatized in the process. Everett published a detailed explanation of the prevalence of sexual assault survivors in the classroom on her blog back in 2018 entitled: Alternative Literature Assignments Support Trauma-Informed Education. According to Everett, she wrote the 2018 article as an op-ed for the Acorn, but the editor refused to publish it.
No matter how sensitive teachers may feel that they are in their ability to address highly traumatic topics like this in the classroom, the fact is that they are not trained to do group counseling. Moreover, most sexual assault victims will go through their entire life and never tell anyone about it. Therefore, with an average of three (3) sexual assault victims in every classroom, the teacher has no way of knowing which ones they are.
When Everett was in a conservative majority, her solution to this dilemma was to put forward an alternative literature assignment policy that placed an asterisk beside the titles that contained graphic child rape scenes so that students and parents would get a heads-up and be able to select another book. No books were banned. Any student could still read the rapey books if they wanted to.
Many parents in the community wonder, however, why on earth do our schools have SO many books with graphic child rape? It almost seems like they are trying to de-sensitize our students to the horrors of sexual assault. No one has adequately explained CVUSD’s obsession with glorifying child rape. It seems like a lawsuit waiting to happen.
When the progressive democrat candidates Cindy Goldberg, Jenny Fitzgerald and Bill Gorback won in the last election, their first order of business was to remove the asterisks from the rapey books on the syllabi – ensuring that rape survivor students get a horrifying surprise when they read these books.
Many in our community seem unaware of the terrible rape culture that exists in our society – and even in our own community. The left appears determined to do everything possible to cover it up, including mocking trustee Everett every time she expresses concern about it.
Last week was no different. During the discussion, Everett turned to the board’s student representative and asked her if she knew anyone at school who had been raped. Her answer was yes, she knew some victims of rape. It is important to note that she did not appear to be disturbed by the question at all. Everett did NOT ask her about her own experience, only if she knew anyone that had experienced that particular trauma and how they might react to reading the rape passages. Everett’s obvious intention was to clarify that there are definitely students in the classroom who have survived rape and might be re-traumatized by stumbling across descriptions of it in their literature reading assignments.
The purpose of having a student representative on the school board is to provide the student perspective on issues like this. Sensitive issues are no exception. In fact, it could be argued that it is even more important to get student input on issues like this that impact students the most.
Everett has previously clarified that her concern about the rapey books is less about classroom discussions and more about the student being re-traumatized while reading the graphic child rape passages alone at home.
Everett has the right approach. Despite the constant and dishonest charges against her for “book-banning”, Everett has never voted to ban ANY book while she has been a member of the Conejo Valley School Board. All she has done is try to ensure parents and students have the information they need to protect themselves from trauma. Everett’s book policy was not an effort to impose her “belief system” on our schools, as her opponents on the left are fond of saying. Of course, being against child rape is the belief system of 100% of our community, we should hope.