It comes to no surprise that the government is now concerned with the uprise of parents admonishing school boards and labeling those parents as a threat.

According to a press release from the North Carolina Department of Public Safety Tuesday evening, Deputy Secretary for Juvenile Justice and Chairman for the state’s Task Force for Safer Schools William Lassiter issued a statement to improve discourse during school board meetings:

“Adults must demonstrate the behaviors we want our children to display, such as being positive, solution-focused, and avoiding name-calling and derogatory or defamatory language when there are disagreements. It is the mission of The Task Force for Safer Schools to help create and foster safer learning environments for students and staff. With this mission in mind, the members of the Task Force found it important to voice our support of the bipartisan statements by Gov. Roy Cooper, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt, and State Board of Education Chair Eric Davis calling for a return to civil discussions about school policy during meetings of our local boards of education.

“While we shouldn’t expect everyone to always agree on policy, we should expect everyone to understand we are all interested in the same outcome — a quality education provided in a safe and caring environment that prepares our children for life’s challenges and the skills they need to excel in the global economy. To achieve this mission, adults must prioritize working across differences to achieve our shared goal: a safe educational environment for our children.”

The state wants parents to demonstrate the behaviors expected of children? Has the state not paid attention to the youth violence in schools and toward teachers and staff? Probably not, as most school districts would more than likely prefer to keep these matters quiet as it reflects negatively on the district. You can see that in some of the local school board meetings where some districts wrap up several items to be approved in consent agendas that usually limit discussion.

Sometimes there is a need for a consent agenda, and other times it can be used to hide elements that may concern the public. When there’s so much red tape and stonewalling from the public school systems, can we really blame parents for being upset? How can parents know where the school district stands and what they are allowing their classrooms to teach kids?

These issues can stem from many things such as bringing critical race theory into the classroom, social movements such as Antifa and Black Lives Matter that verge on unrest, and crossing the line of pornographic material that is unacceptable to teach children.

A school board meeting at Fairfax County Public Schools last month showed concern from citizens in that area. Adrienne Henzel gave a public comment to the board and said she protests the use of taxpayer money for campaigning the use of homoerotic material with minors. Henzel explained the books graphically depict homosexual acts and referenced page 167 of one of the books in the school called “Gender Queer” by Maia Kobabe that depicts two high schoolers engaged in oral sex.

I Googled the book and flipped through some of the photos. I did not find anything graphic — it does not mean there isn’t any in the book, but I was disturbed by the context and purpose of the book where it provokes questioning one’s gender identity. The book did not appear appropriate for children and more for conversations between children and their parents than at school. It is odd that a school would allow such literature into a school that influences and possibly confuses children, undermining how parents raise their kids. To me, it seems to be a device to indoctrinate children.

Another citizen, Stacy Langton, who is a parent, came forward during the Fairfax County Public School meeting and said she decided to check the titles at her child’s school after seeing a Sept. 9 school board meeting in Texas regarding pornography in schools. Langton raised the “Gender Queer” book as well as “Lawn Boy” in front of the board members and told them the books included pedophilia, sex between men and boys.

She then displayed blown-up panels of the illustrations inside the book. Soon after her microphone was cut off, you can see someone on the board showing the sign to cut her off. Her microphone was turned back on as she raised her voice so that board members could hear her protest. One board member said, “There are children in the audience here,” which caused a stir with those attending the meeting.

Langton protested and told members not to interrupt her time, to which a board member said the book material was for high school students. After being cut off again, the chairwoman for the board, Stella Pekarsky, tried calling up the next public speaker as the audience applauded. The board took a five-minute break after.

Watch the video on YouTube by searching the FCPS board meeting on Sept. 23, or any other recent video of concerned parents highlighting these issues at several board meetings across the nation.

Again, how can we blame parents for being frustrated by being cut off midsentence and have interjections during that public speaker’s time? School districts do not help concerned citizens, let alone themselves when they brazenly disregard or brush things off that are of concern to the parents but appear to be an agenda pushed by the schools.

The National School Boards Association wrote a letter to President Joseph Biden on Sept. 29 requesting federal assistance to stop “threats and acts of violence against public schoolchildren, public school board members and other public school district officials and educators.”

Here is an excerpt from that letter: “NSBA believes immediate assistance is required to protect our students, school board members, and educators who are susceptible to acts of violence affecting interstate commerce because of threats to their districts, families, and personal safety. As our school boards continue coronavirus recovery operations within their respective districts, they are also persevering against other challenges that could impede this progress in a number of communities. Coupled with attacks against school board members and educators for approving policies for masks to protect the health and safety of students and school employees, many public school officials are also facing physical threats because of propaganda purporting the false inclusion of critical race theory within classroom instruction and curricula. This propaganda continues despite the fact that critical race theory is not taught in public schools and remains a complex law school and graduate school subject well beyond the scope of a K-12 class.”

The request is asking for law enforcement agencies to work with school districts in some capacity. The letter also read that threats have been sent to board members through the U.S. Postal Service, social media and other platforms.

From my experience as a reporter dealing with some of the local school districts, I know that my repeated attempts of questioning on specific matters have been deemed “harassment” in at least one case. Other times school districts feel that if they do not say anything, it will go away when questioned, so they fall silent. I’m not the only one who has dealt with this, as parents have expressed to me the same issues.

Another troubling part of the letter to Biden read, “As these acts of malice, violence, and threats against public school officials have increased, the classification of these heinous actions could be the equivalent to a form of domestic terrorism and hate crimes. As such, NSBA requests a joint expedited review by the U.S. Departments of Justice, Education, and Homeland Security, along with the appropriate training, coordination, investigations, and enforcement mechanisms from the FBI, including any technical assistance necessary from, and state and local coordination with, its National Security Branch and Counterterrorism Division, as well as any other federal agency with relevant jurisdictional authority and oversight.”

Now parents are at risk of being targeted by the government for whatever is deemed a threat. What language, emotion or act can be misconstrued to fit the narrative of those who are now holding the children hostage, thinking they know what’s best for the parent’s decision?

The best thing to do is call your state representative and senators to address your concerns. Keep calling them.

News Editor Richard Holm can be reached at rholm@rrdailyherald.com or 252-410-7054.

News Editor Richard Holm can be reached at rholm@rrdailyherald.com or 252-410-7054.