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Pennridge parents make removed books available


A handful of mothers in the Pennridge School District have joined together to reintroduce a number of books removed from school libraries and district curriculum back into the community.
Organized as the Pennridge Improvement Project, the six women are focusing on bringing books centered primarily on LGBT issues to the approximately 10 Little Free Libraries located throughout the district’s neighborhoods, said Emily Smith, a Pennridge parent who helped create the new nonprofit.
To date, PIP’s book drive has collected about 120 books, said Smith. Some residents are dropping books off and others are having them delivered. “We’ll keep loading them in,” to the small, box-style libraries as they circulate, said Smith, who has two children in the district.
After the district’s administration asked elementary school librarians and principals to remove all materials “referencing gender identity” and the formation of a group called Pennridge for Educational Liberty that supports the change, Smith said she and others felt it was important to find alternative outlets for the reading materials.
“I feel it’s not necessarily about books,” said Smith. “It’s just offensive to a lot of our community to be telling people who are gay that they’re bad.”

With mental health issues a growing concern among youth, Smith said, measures that single out LGBT people is especially concerning. “It makes it seem the district is not inclusive, not welcoming.”
Earlier this school year, the school board “halted” the district’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committees, as it began reviewing curriculum and reading materials, said Smith.
The association, which also sponsored an art show this year and a Facebook Live reading event on Martin Luther King Day, is a way of showing support for the LGBT and larger community, Smith said.
“This is an incredible team of motivated women,” she said. She added, “Do not mess with our children.”