- August 30, 2022
At the Flagler County School Board’s monthly business meeting on Feb. 22, board member Christy Chong said she expects media center book challenges will eventually be decided by the board, and she left little doubt as to where her vote will land.
The conservative group Moms for Liberty Flagler Chapter has challenged 22 library books, 14 of which are currently in at least one school media center.
Two district committees are scheduled to meet in March to review challenges that have been appealed by the complainant after school review committees voted to retain the books. After district, reviews can be appealed to the superintendent and eventually to the School Board.
Chong said the board is required by law to keep “pornography” out of schools.
This is not difficult. There are parents and people who do not want pornography in schools, and there are those that do. — CHRISTY CHONG
“I’m absolutely tired of hearing about it,” Chong said in her closing comments. “Ultimately it will come down to us. This is not difficult. There are parents and people who do not want pornography in schools, and there are those that do. That’s all that this is about.”
She cited Florida Statute 847.012, which deals with the sale or distribution of obscenity to minors.
“It is a felony of the third degree,” she said. “Our tax dollars should not be providing pornography in schools. It’s ridiculous. … I encourage parents to keep challenging these books. As a board, I know we’ll eventually do the right thing.”
At a workshop earlier in the day, Chong noted that a body cam video by a Flagler County Sheriff's deputy at Matanzas High revealed an LGBTQ-related poster in a classroom.
The footage was from the arrest of a Matanzas student charged with beating a paraprofessional on Feb. 21. Following her request for a discussion on an alternative school, Chong said she had an item "kind of unrelated to the situation."
Chong noted that in the body cam footage, as two deputies are escorting the handcuffed student out of a classroom, a sign on a bulletin board that reads, "This is a safe space for LGBTQ students and their allies," is clearly visible. The wording is printed over a rainbow flag background.
"Let me try to choose my words carefully," Chong said. "Within that classroom there's a poster on the wall pushing the LGBTQ agenda, and I want to know how much this is going on in our schools. If we can't hang bible verses or pray, then we shouldn't be pushing any kind of agenda in our schools. Our children are going there to have an education and not to have other things be pushed down there throats, especially sexuality."
At the conclusion of her comments, Superintendent Cathy Mittlestadt said, "I'll take care of it. Thank you."
Board attorney Kristy Gavin told the Observer in a text that the school district does not permit signs affiliated with social or political causes.
"Safe spaces are not limited to any specific student population," Gavin said.
Gavin also said the teacher who was in that classroom last year was the sponsor for the Gay-Straight Alliance, but that teacher is no longer in that classroom and the group no longer meets in that room.