Oceanside Unified School District (OUSD) parents, educators, and community members are pushing back against calls from a small group of activists to ban books from the libraries and classrooms of the north county San Diego district.
In January, a small group of political activists, some with children in the district, questioned the efficacy of eleven books they wanted removed from shelves in the school libraries and teachers’ classes. The common thread is the majority of the books targeted have LGBTQ+ themes. In February, the group returned to a community of education stakeholders who were prepared to answer those questions.
Superintendent Dr. Julie Vitale spoke at the onset of the February 7th meeting and explained that community members have an official pathway to challenge materials. While the policy is longstanding, there are no current challenges to books and materials in OUSD. Every parent can also choose for their child to “opt out” of reading material they find objectionable.
During public comments, as community members shared concerns on both sides, it was obvious from the overall crowd response that the community was not in support of the proposed book ban.
Oceanside Teachers Association (OTA) President Tiffany Cooper-Ortega made it plain during presentation of her Labor Partner Board Report that students, particularly those who identify as LGBTQ+, are protected under the CA Education Code.
Parents and advocates brought signs in support of LGBTQ+ students and against banning books that help youth as they face adolescent identity issues.
President Cooper-Ortega spoke about the value of members joining the Oceanside community in support of their LGBTQ+ students;
“Oceanside Teachers Association will continue to advocate for inclusive classrooms and libraries that reflect the diversity of all our students, educators, and community. As their President, I trust and support the educational professionals that have dedicated their career to literature, instruction of our students, and equitable experiences for everyone. We will not allow these ideologues to silence the voices of our beautifully diverse community.”