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Kent School Board votes against banning book featuring LGBTQ+ content

For months, the district has been weighing comments on whether to ban a book from its middle school libraries.

KENT, Wash. — The Kent School Board voted Wednesday night not to ban a book from it's middle school libraries. The vote was 2-1 and one board member abstained. 

Since January, the district has been weighing a challenge for a formal recommendation to have the book "Jack of Hearts (And Other Parts)” removed. The ACLU of Washington also got involved threatening legal action if the book were to be removed. 

Parents say Wednesday night's vote came as a surprise. 

"There were a lot of questions about which way they would vote and I think a lot of that have been paying attention... we thought they would vote one way and turned out voting another way," said district parent, Megan Carter.

The book is about an LGBTQ+ student who is blackmailed. The book talks about how the main character protects himself, while not getting needed support from his school or some peers.

"Jack of Hearts (And Other Parts)” was at Cedar Heights Middle School when it was challenged by Keri Allsop, who claims to be a parent or guardian of a student in the district. The book covers topics involving sex, drugs and uses profanity.

A 15-person Instructional Material Committee voted 12-to-3 recommending the book be removed. School Board Director Tim Clark agreed with the committee and was the sole vote to ban the book. 

"The result is they did their job," said Clark, "Let's not downplay that these were professionals and they did make a judgment." 

Board member Joseph Bento and President Leslie Hamada voted to keep the book. Board member Awale Farah said he had no opinion on the matter and abstained. 

The book is not required reading. President Hamada voiced interest Wednesday night in reviewing the district's policy on controversial books. 

"We as a board need to take a closer look at more clarity on how free reading or controversial books or curriculum are looked at. To me it is a different challenge than everyday curriculum work," said Hamada. 

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