Parents outraged during meeting revealing explicit material inside Cameron R-1 School District libraries

Multiple parents of Cameron R-1 School District students took the first steps in removing what they believe are explicit materials from school libraries. 

During a meeting of concerned parents and residents from the surrounding area inside Passion Church, attendees expressed their concerns after hearing excerpts from books accessible to Cameron High School students.

“’He humped me wildly ... He kneeled back. Raise your legs, spread them.’ Do y’all want me to keep going? This is the stuff that is in our school,” said Colleen Hardy, the wife of Passion Church Pastor Lonnie Hardy, while quoting an excerpt from the novel “Lucky” depicting a graphic rape.

According to a 2014 study by the University of New Hampshire, 1 in 9 girls will experience sexual abuse or assault by an adult before they turn 18. For boys, the ratio is 1 in 53. Paula Allen, a former case manager with Green County Child Advocacy Center and mother of a Cameron student, said many sexual assault cases go unreported. She added there is a high likelihood of students quietly suffering from unreported cases of sexual abuse attending CHS and books with graphic descriptions of rape may in fact be counterproductive to the recovery by making them relive their trauma.

“They go to school to escape the abuse they are experiencing. Now, they are going to school and be forced to read this book, and be forced to relive it, and also read other accounts. I’m sorry, but that is not inspirational for a child, whose voice is silent,” Allen said.

Although local residents Heath Gilbert, Dan Landi and Travis Eldredge spearheaded Cameron’s push to remove explicit materials from school libraries, it is only a small segment of a national effort. Gilbert said there are more than 70 books in the CHS library with questionable material, and a cursory search revealed eight books with graphic depictions at Cameron Veterans Middle School, they only found one at Parkview Elementary School. 

“I’m not asking to ban the books. I believe there is content that should not be in the hands of a minor ... I don’t want to ban the books,” Gilbert said. “I do not, and if a parent wants their child to be able to read that book that’s their child. I have no right to tell another parent want they cannot provide their child. But I also believe the school district should not be providing my child with this content and I not know what’s in there.”

The attendees hope to take action soon, mirroring similar steps taken by parents in North Kansas City. Although confident moving forward, Suewanna Freeman said she has her doubts that the school district truly has the students’ best interests at heart.

“My daughter had come to me, a junior at the time, repeatedly throughout the school year. There was a teacher making some very sexually charge comments like ‘Yeah, you got a 69 in my class. It’s a great number but not a great grade,” said Freeman, who asked her daughter to record video of the next encounter with her cellphone. “... My daughter withdrew from Cameron schools to go online to get her degree because when I sent an email to the principal, not only did they not reply or acknowledge me, they called my daughter down to try and confiscate her phone for the video. They had zero interest in the protection of our children - zero.”

The group said they plan to attend the next Cameron R-1 School District Board of Education meeting, which is set for 7 p.m. Monday inside the Goodrich Building.

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