A police officer stopped an outraged mum in Florida from showing a school board a graphic novel she says she found in the school library that featured sex acts and nudity, as well as depictions of masturbation, naked boys urinating on each other and the sexual assault of a child.
Julie Gebhards of Tampa told the school board she was stunned after she found the 2003 graphic novel ‘Blankets’ by Craig Thompson in the school library in Hillsborough County.
The footage shows her talking to the school board and warning that what she is about to say is “explicit”.
Attempting to show the board some of the images in the book, a police officer hastily stopped her from doing so.
But the outraged mum, apparently surprised at being challenged, then told the school board that parents had objected to the book being in the school library, but a panel of seven people appointed by the Plant City High School had approved it unanimously.
Gebhards said: “This is in children’s libraries here in Hillsborough County. Approved by that committee unanimously.”
She said the book was blatantly inappropriate for children and said it included references to and the depiction of “erections, breast fondling, biting, tasting, oral copulation, stripping off clothes in heated passion, 22 images of the aroused couple, 10 images of her naked breasts.”
She added: “This is shameful, base and degrading.”
Board Chair Nadia Combs then reportedly moved on to the next speaker, at the end of Gebhards’ two minutes of speaking time.
She said: “Thank you. Next speaker. No one is allowed to bring displays.”
But Gebhards continued despite being asked to make way for the next speaker.
She said: “This is in a library book in your classrooms.”
She later took to Instagram to voice her complaints, attracting numerous supportive comments.
In Florida, the law states that parents can challenge books made available to students, but it is then up to school administrators to decide whether to accept the challenge or reject it.
‘Blankets’ was published in 2003 to critical acclaim. It is an autobiographical work which Thompson began working on in 1999.
It tells the story of his upbringing in an Evangelical Christian family, his first forays into love, and his early adult years.
It depicts Thompson and his younger brother Phil being sexually abused by a male babysitter.
It also discusses his relationship with Christianity and how he told his brother that while he still believed in God and the teaching of Jesus, he no longer identified as a Christian.
Time magazine ranked it number one in its 2003 Best Comics list and number eight in its Best Comics of the Decade list.
Thompson has said that he thinks ‘Blankets’ was successful because he was “reacting against all of the over-the-top, explosive action genre.”
He has also said: “I also didn’t want to do anything cynical and nihilistic, which is the standard for a lot of alternative comics.”
A number of attempts in the US, primarily in the Bible Belt in the southern states, have occurred to have the book removed from public and school libraries over the years.