Gus Kenworthy
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Principal Who Banned a Book With LGBTQ Themes Arrested for Child Porn

Phillip Todd Wilson

A high school principal who once banned books with LGBTQ content and other factors parents and administrators found objectionable has now been arrested on child pornography charges.

Phillip Todd Wilson, principal of the Clark County Area Technology Center, a public vocational school in Winchester, Ky., was arrested Tuesday by state police, Lexington TV station WKYT reports.

Police say he possessed 15 child porn images and had shared them with others. He is charged with 15 counts of possession of matter portraying sexual performance by a minor, and 15 counts of distribution of such material. He appeared in court Wednesday and pleaded not guilty.

In 2008, as principal of Montgomery County High School in Mount Sterling, Ky., he joined with other administrators to remove several young-adult novels that had been listed as optional reading in English classes taught by Risha Mullins. Students weren’t required to read any of the books, but a parent of a student who had chosen Lessons From a Dead Girl by Jo Knowles emailed the principal, the superintendent, the school board, and Mullins, calling the book “soft pornography,” according to a blog post by the teacher.

In the novel, a teenage girl named Laine looks back on her friendship with Leah, who has died. There are some gay characters in the book, and at one point Leah coerces Laine into sex, claiming it’s practice for future relationships. 

That book was pulled along with Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson, about a troubled high school senior; Deadline by Chris Crutcher, about a boy trying to live his best life with a terminal illness; and Unwind by Neal Shusterman, a novel set in a dystopian future in which teenagers’ organs can be harvested for transplantation.

The books were taken out of the classroom even though “not a single official challenge had been filed, as board policy required for a book to be suspended,” Mullins wrote in her post, which has now been deleted from the internet; an archived version was found and shared by Book Riot.

Author Knowles expressed her feelings in a Facebook post Wednesday.

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