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Iowa School District Removes Book, Caves to Far-Right Online Bullying

Iowa School District Removes Book, Caves to Far-Right Online Bullying

Library books

Not even an hour after the far-right hate account targeted the school district, officials from the area responded and thanked the bully for targeting them.

A school district in Iowa allowed itself to be bullied into removing a book from school libraries after being mentioned by far-right extremist Chaya Raichik and her Libs of TikTok account despite having established procedures around library materials.

Mid-afternoon Monday, Libs of TikTok tweeted an attack targeting a western Iowa school district that carries the LGBTQ-inclusive title This Book is Gay.

“GRAPHIC: @siouxcityschool offers the pornographic book “This Book is Gay” to students. The book teaches kids about gay sex and encourages the use of sex apps. These are the books they’re giving your kids to read in school,” the hate account wrote at 3:35 p.m.

A bit more than an hour later, at 4:39 p.m., somebody from the official school district’s Twitter account responded to the account, which experts say engages in stochastic terrorism tactics.

Sioux City Community School District tweet reply to Libs of TikTok

“Thanks for bringing this to our attention. We were unaware of contents in this book which could compromise student safety. It has been removed from our library,” the Sioux City Community School District account replied.

Raichik celebrated the development at 5:17 p.m., tweeting, “BREAKING: @siouxcityschool confirmed they removed a pornographic book from their library after Libs of TikTok exposé. Big win for students of Iowa!”

The Advocate contacted representatives for the Sioux City Community School District to ask why the district removed the books and whether officials there know Libs of TikTok’s track record with inciting followers to issue bomb threats against children’s hospitals and otherwise menace events the account has highlighted.

The Director of Communications for the district, Leslie Heying, responded to the inquiry in writing.

“The Sioux City Community School District has books in our libraries representing our diverse student population, however, we do not promote books that could compromise student safety,” Heying wrote in an email.

“On Monday, the district became aware of a book in one of our libraries containing material that could put student safety at risk. Upon learning of the book’s content, the district immediately removed the book from our library,” she continued.

“The book that was removed yesterday was removed by the district due to some content in the book which was a safety concern,” she wrote without providing any details.

She directed The Advocate to the school system’s website for information on library materials and policies surrounding their reconsideration.

The policy on Reconsideration of Library Materials states that students, parents, or staff in the district may challenge books from time to time but that “no duly selected material(s) whose appropriateness is challenged shall be removed from a library program except upon the decision of a Reconsideration Committee; Upon formal action of the Board when a Reconsideration Committee decision is appealed; [or] upon formal action of the State Board of Education when a Board decision is appealed.”

Raichik is neither a parent, student, nor staff member in the district.

The Advocate requested clarification about when the required steps were taken during the 64 minutes between Raichik’s tweet and the district’s response but did not immediately hear back.

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