Sumner County Board of Education discuss banning of book from schools


"A Place Inside Me" by Zetta Elliott is up for removal from Sumner County Schools.
Published: Oct. 17, 2022 at 8:58 PM CDT
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HENDERSONVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - On Tuesday, the Sumner County Board of Education discussed and reviewed the appeal of a book deemed to have racist, hateful, and dividing themes.

After hours of public comment, board members voted to keep the book in school libraries.

The book, called “A Place Inside Me” by Zetta Elliott was called inappropriate and was said it pushes racism, anger, and division, according to Sarah Kearney who requested the reconsideration of instructional materials.

Kearney claimed her child found the book in the picture book section of the library and that they are much too young to read anything like that.

She recommended the proper age group for the book is adults.

“This book completely goes against Section 3 in HB2670, Divisive Concepts,” Kearney claimed. “I am absolutely mind-blown that someone intentionally ordered this book for an elementary school library.

The request for the reconsideration of instructional materials went to Jack Anderson Elementary. The school has a JAE Materials Review Committee which reviews multiple books throughout the year.

Kearney said the book has Black Lives Matter all over it.

“BLM is a known terrorist organization,” wrote Kearney in the citizen’s request. “They spew hate. Even if it didn’t have BLM in it, it would still be unacceptable to show pictures of riots and protests, police with clubs, and a memorial service for someone who was shot by the police. This is a racist book. It is absurd that this was found to be acceptable reading.”

Kearney stated the topics in the book should not be available in school, especially for a first grader.

On Sept. 8, the Reconsideration Committee Meeting decided to retain the material in its original location.

The committee based the decision on the following criteria:

  • The material meets high standards in literary, artistic, and aesthetic quality; technical aspects and physical format
  • The material earned favorable reviews in standard reviewing sources and/or favorable recommendations based on preview and examination of materials by professional personnel
  • The material exhibits a high degree of potential user appeal and interest
  • The material represents differing viewpoints on controversial issues
  • The material provides a global perspective and promotes diversity by including authors and illustrators of all cultures.
  • The material demonstrates physical format, appearance and durability suitable to intended use.

The committee affirmed the proposition by highlighting and underlining that parents and teachers have a responsibility to prepare the young to meet the diversity of experiences in life to which they will be exposed, as they have a responsibility to help them learn to think critically for themselves.

“These are affirmative responsibilities, not to be discharged simply by preventing them from reading works for which they are not yet prepared,” the committee statement said. “No group has the right to take the law into its own hands, and to impose its own concept or morality upon other members of a democratic society.”

To find out what resources the JAE Materials Review Committee uses, click here.