School District committee votes to retain the book 'Sold'

The committee recommended that the novel about human trafficking has value and should be retained in school media centers.

The School Board voted to 3-2 to accept the district's decision to retain the book, "Sold" in the high school libraries. File photo.
The School Board voted to 3-2 to accept the district's decision to retain the book, "Sold" in the high school libraries. File photo.
Photo by Brent Woronoff
  • Palm Coast Observer
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A Flagler School District review committee voted on March 6 to retain the book, "Sold," on media center book shelves.

The novel, by Patricia McCormick, was challenged last year by two members of the Flagler County Chapter leadership of the Moms for Liberty.

A joint committee of Matanzas and Flagler Palm Coast high schools voted in October to keep the book in the two media centers. The complainants appealed the decision necessitating the district review.

The district committee, made up of administrators, media specialists, teachers, parents and community members unanimously voted to retain the book in the high school media centers. Nine of the 11 committee members present voted to also allow the book in middle school media centers with parental consent required for student check-out.

LaShakia Moore, the district's assistant superintendent for academic services, led the meeting. Moore said the committee's recommendation to Superintendent Cathy Mittelstadt will be to retain the book in the high schools as well as in the middle schools with parents' consent.

The complainants can appeal to the superintendent. If the superintendent agrees with the committee's decision, the complainants can appeal again to the School Board.

During a Feb. 22 School Board meeting, board member Christy Chong said she expects the board will eventually decide all the challenges. Chong said, "Our tax dollars should not be providing pornography in schools."

"Sold" is a fictional story about a girl from Nepal named Lakshmi who is sold into sexual slavery. The story is written from Laksmi's point of view.

The two school district challenges, made by different people, used the same exact language: "This book contains explicit aberrant sexual activities including rape of a minor; prostitution; and explicit violence."

But on the district committee's review questionnaire, the committee members said the book "brings awareness to the issue of human trafficking and the trauma faced." A committee member also noted that "Florida has mandated human trafficking education. This novel could serve to work with this education."

The committee members agreed that the book is suitable for students in grades 9-12 and appropriate for some middle schoolers with parents' permission. A committee member noted that Lakshmi is only 13 in the story.

The committee members agreed the book stimulates growth in factual knowledge because although it is a work of fiction, it is based on research. 

By creating awareness, a reader may be inspired to help stop trafficking. — COMMITTEE MEMBER

"By creating awareness, a reader may be inspired to help stop trafficking," a committee member said.

As for the book being explicit, committee members said the prose is simplistic and even delicate and that Lakshmi does not have the language to express what is happening to her, so a lot of it is implied.

Answering whether the material could be considered offensive, the committee checked the boxes for profanity, brutality, sexual behavior, violence, portrayal of any societal groups and cruelty.

The committee noted on the questionnaire that Lakshmi is raped but the novel is "critical of the societal norms that perpetuate this behavior."

"There are some difficult things going on that may not be suitable for all readers," one committee member said.

"Offensive terms bring light to sex trafficking. They have to be there to bring understanding," the committee wrote.

The committee noted that there are warnings about the material on the book cover.

"To silence books about injustice is to silence the injustice," a committee member said. "These books need to exist to be a catalyst to conversations. They bring awareness which is the first step to bringing an end to it."

The district review was the first this year for an appealed ruling Another district committee is scheduled to review, "Nowhere Girls," on March 13 at the district's offices at the Government Services Building. The public is welcome but cannot participate in the discussion.    


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