Old Rochester Regional School Committee member Joe Pires said books made available to seventh grade students as young as 12 years old in the system's libraries are "inappropriate."

In an interview on WBSM, Pires said he is "appalled" by some of the "sexually explicit" reading material he has reviewed.

Books such as Gender Queer: A Memoir by Maia Kobabe, banned by some school districts due to its LGBTQ content and sexually explicit images, are available at the Old Rochester Regional school libraries.

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Other books found to be objectionable by some ORR parents include Lawn Boy by Jonathan Evison and All Boys Aren't Blue by George M. Johnson. Both of these titles have also been banned by some school districts.

Old Rochester Regional Library Contains 'Sexually Explicit' Books
Photo Courtesy of Joe Pires

Pires said he first learned of the controversy when several parents raised concerns about the books during "open comment time" at a recent school committee meeting.

"What I learned as a parent was appalling," said Pires, a father of three children.

"I take issues of equity and inclusion very seriously," said Pires, who identifies as a minority. "(But) the content of these books has no place in a school library."

Pires said books that he has reviewed contain graphic depictions.

"I don't want kids to be sexualized," he said.

Pires said some of the library books "teach kids how to pleasure themselves and other men." He said one of the books has information about an adult app to show boys "how to connect with adult men."

Credit: Old Rochester Regional School District

While he does not speak for others, Pires said he has been encouraged by other parents to continue to expose the types of reading material made available to students in the library.

"Our job is to help protect innocent children," he said.

Pires said he is not seeking to ban the books but will propose that access to questionable books be limited to students with parental approval, and that a committee consisting of at least one parent be formed to determine the appropriateness of potentially controversial books.

The controversy will likely be addressed at a region-wide school committee meeting on November 7, 2022.

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