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Controversial children’s book will likely stay in Columbus district

(NBC15)
Published: Feb. 28, 2020 at 9:19 PM CST
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A controversial children’s book will likely stay on library shelves in the Columbus School District, after a ruling by a district’s committee.

On Friday night, a district committee voted unanimously to keep the book “10,000 dresses” in the school district. That recommendation now moves on to the school district’s superintendent.

The book “10,000 dresses,” about a transgender girl who wears dresses, has been part of the Columbus School District library since March 2016. It only recently started gaining attention after Nathan Pollnow’s 6-year-old daughter brought the book home from school.

“Not against transgenders, man. It's your thing, do whatever you want. But I think it's a time and a place and parents need to make that argument, or that discussion,” Pollnow told NBC15 News on Friday. “They don't need the school district unpacking things for them."

Pollnow filed a complaint with the district, saying the book is inappropriate for a kindergartener.

“You are either a boy or you are a girl. That is the way you are born,” he says. “Until you are of age, you really shouldn't have to know there's a difference. That's health class in high school, maybe earlier in junior high. But definitely not kindergarten."

Per policy, a Columbus School District committee then evaluated the book, to determine whether it meets district criteria.

"We want to make sure that when we’re putting a committee together, that we’re doing it appropriate and a good job of putting the team together, the committee together. And that we’re going to do a good job by responding to the parents’ concern," says Annette Deuman, superintendent of the Columbus School District.

Committee members then evaluated the book, as to whether it meets district criteria. Some of those criteria include age appropriateness and use of the material.

Director of curriculum and instruction Becky Schmidt clarified that the meeting was not an open, public meeting.

"This is a meeting for the purpose of carrying on the business of the school district. And therefore is not a public meeting, but a meeting held in public. Only those invited to attend by the school district will be allowed to participate," Schmidt said at the start of the meeting.

At a meeting Friday night, dozens came forward in support of the book.

“I have a fundamental dislike of banning books, period. And I also have a fundamental value that kids have to learn from an early age on core values, so that they stay with them for their whole life,” says Tessie Sharrow of Columbus. “And this is not about anything other than a child that has a different idea of how to dress.”

Meantime, Pollnow still disagrees with the ruling.

“I believe they didn't even listen to me today. That's really what I feel. I watched them. I believe four out of the six that were there already had speeches written. They knew they were going to give opinions. They didn't give credence to anything I said,” he told NBC15 News after the meeting on Friday.

"The committee does have 30 business days from the beginning, the first meeting, to do a written, formal recommendation to me. So I’ll receive that within those 30 days. And then that recommendation goes to me, and it goes from there in the process," Deuman says. "I’ll make the determination based on the committee, and how they have gone through. So I’ll take the process. My personal opinion has to stay out, just like the committee really looked at their personal opinions. They reviewed it based on the criteria."