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Hoover schools block library app to find, remove “sexual content”

The school system has completely blocked access to SORA for students while it conducts an internal review.

Spain Park High School
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When a Spain Park High School parent complained last week about a book they felt was inappropriate on the system’s online library, SORA, superintendent Dr. Kevin Maddox said he acted swiftly to remove the two books in question.

“As you know, we have a clearly defined board policy for parents to request reconsideration of books that we have available,” Maddox said at a council meeting Tuesday. “However, after reviewing these two books, I had both books pulled from the catalog because I do not believe explicit and graphic sexual content is age-appropriate for high school students.”

Kervin did not give the titles of either book, but a resident and an out-of-state activist pointed to the availability of “Queer: The Ultimate LGBTQ Guide for Teens” being available through the app.

John Amanchukwu, a North Carolina activist, read excerpts from the book including sections that discussed anal sex.

Now the school system has taken a step further and has completely blocked access to SORA for students while it conducts an internal review for more “sexually explicit” content.

“Additionally, we have initiated an internal audit of our SORA online library to ensure that similar books with mature sexual content are removed. During this review period, access to SORA e-books will be unavailable,” the school system sent in an email to parents. “The District remains committed to being proactive in our efforts to safeguard the well-being of our students and uphold our district’s mission and values. We appreciate the cooperation and support of our community as we continue to prioritize our students’ educational experiences.”

The move comes against a backdrop of book challenges primarily in public libraries statewide. The group Clean Up Alabama started by challenging only LGBTQ+ books that contained no sexually explicit content, then broadened its horizons to books with sexual content of all sexual orientations.

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While Clean Up, Moms for Liberty, Eagle Forum and others have placed an emphasis on “sexual content,” the groups have pushed policies reaching past sexual content and extending to sexual orientation and gender identity.

The Autauga-Prattville Public Library board approved policies in February that prevent the library from purchasing any books advertised for minors 17 and under that include “sexual orientation” or “gender identity.”

Amy Minton, one of Ivey’s newest appointees of the Alabama Public Library Service board, has applauded the moves of the groups and introduced a proposed amendment to APLS administrative code to require all state libraries to implement policies akin to Prattville.

Jacob Holmes is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can reach him at [email protected]

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