A growing number of concerned parents and advocacy groups have spoken out in recent years against materials presented in public schools that include age-inappropriate material including graphic depictions of sexual acts.
One leading force in this movement has been Moms for Liberty, the founders of which received a rare mainstream media platform this week.
Although Tiffany Justice and Tina Descovich were invited to sit down for an interview with CBS News correspondent Martha Teichner on Sunday, critics say the segment downplayed and ignored evidence of the most egregious material the group wants removed from school classrooms and libraries.
When Teichner asked her two guests what types of books they believe are appropriate for schools, Justice replied: “Books that don’t have pornography in them, let’s start there. Let’s just put the bar really, really low. Books that don’t have incest, pedophilia, rape.”
Although that exchange made it into the interview, the graphic images that Justice and Descovich provided to CBS producers apparently did not.
Why did @CBSNews not show the porn images from the books we shared with them?
Looks like they are the ones banning the truth of what is actually being fought about in public schools.
— Moms for Liberty (@Moms4Liberty) April 23, 2023
“Tina and I gave Martha Teichner and her producer the images and texts from the books that Moms and Dads are concerned about in school libraries,” Justice said in a statement following the interview. “Why did you not show them?”
A number of prominent Twitter users weighed in with similar criticism of the segment, suggesting that CBS appeared more interested in portraying Moms for Liberty as an extremist group than in revealing the objectionable content being presented to children in schools.
During the same show, former teacher Summer Boismier, among others, was given an opportunity to express disdain for the push to protect young children from graphic sexual content and themes.
Describing the effort as a de facto book ban, Boismier said she was “incensed” and “livid” that parents would be concerned about the material their kids are being exposed to while in school.
She glossed over the nature of the images — many of which include full nudity and sexual intercourse — in furtherance of her political message: “Identities are not obscenities. Stories are not pornography. They are possibility.”
Teichner also interviewed Deborah Caldwell-Stone, the director of the American Library Association’s Office of Intellectual Freedom.
She defended one of the books most often cited as inappropriate for children, “Gender Queer” by Maia Kobabe, by asserting: “It is a graphic novel, so certainly it’s more in-your-face. But it’s not intended to titillate; it’s intended to provide a window into one person’s experience, not knowing their gender identity and needing to explore that.”