New York Times Bestselling Author Ellen Hopkins speaks to Brandywine Community Schools board regarding her "sexually explicit" books
NILES, Mich.- The Brandywine Community Schools Board met tonight to discuss allowing author Ellen Hopkins to summarize her presentation for the board that she'll present for Brandywine High School students tomorrow.
Mixed opinions ran between parents, community members and board members regarding keeping a selection of books deemed "sexually explicit" behind a desk at the media center.
After almost a year long struggle, the board unanimously approved the policy passing 7-0, but that doesn't mean the entire community is behind the decision.
A representative from the Michigan Association of School Libraries, spoke tonight saying, "A student needs to feel ostracized to ask for them," she said referring to the books behind the media desk. "Those books are there so those students' voices can be heard."
Now, almost a month since the policy passed, Ellen Hopkins, the author of some of those restricted books, comes to Brandywine High School on October 17, to give a presentation for students who received signed parent permission to attend the event.
Ellen Hopkins is an acclaimed New York Times bestselling author whose titles include "Crank," "Identical" and "Burned."
Council members were reluctant to change the agenda for Hopkins, initially only allowing to her speak during her three minutes for public comment, as already scheduled.
"We've already codified the sexually explicit book and material policy," said Thomas Payne, the Board President. "I'm not sure what a presentation could add, specifically, to the board business."
After discussion, they voted 5-2 to allow Hopkins to provide the summary.
Hopkins stood before the board declaring herself "the most banned author in the country," followed by a small applause.
"All my books are going to be over there somewhere, including this book," she said holding up a novel, "Crank," based on her daughter.
The novel features themes of love, abuse and drugs.
"My goal with all of my books has always been to make kids make better choices, to understand that one bad choice can turn their life into a living hell for 25 years," Hopkins said.
Her novels are based on real people, with the sequel to "Crank" about surviving.
"Can you find love? Is there life after?" she questioned. "I wrote that book to keep kids off the streets."
A board member asked, "Would you agree there needs to be a level of parental involvement when dealing with this topic?"
Hopkins responded, "I have no problem with parental involvement," but added, "There are kids who need books that their parents won't let them read. That's the truth. Kids should find books that represent who they are and give them an understanding of what they're going through."