New school board president sworn in on stack of banned books after defeating Moms for Liberty

A protester holds a placard during a protest held by Philly Children's Movement against Moms For Liberty in Center City Philadelphia. (Photo: Matthew Hatcher)

By Sean Kitchen

December 7, 2023

Karen Smith, the new school board president for Central Bucks School Board, was sworn-in on Monday by using a stack of banned books. Afterwards, the new board got to work and began repealing book bans and anti-LGBTQ policies put in place by the previous board.

Karen Smith, the new school board president for the Central Bucks School Board, was sworn in on Monday by placing her right hand on a stack of banned books.

The symbolic gesture comes after Democrats swept five school board seats, defeating the Moms for Liberty-backed slate of Republican candidates who were funded by Paul Martino, a tech millionaire and venture capitalist.

The Central Bucks School District became a lightning rod for culture war issues over the past several years after right-wing school board members used the pandemic and masking mandates to pursue book bans and attacks against students and teachers from the LGBTQ community.

@keystonenewsroom

Elections have consequences. Watch Karen Smith, the new Central Bucks School Board President, get sworn in by placing her hand on a stack of banned books. Smith and the new school board members were sworn in on Monday and got right to work by repealing and tabling policies passed by the previous school board. These repealed policies included the prohibition of transgender athletes playing sports, a ban on books with “sexualized content,” and a policy that prohibited teachers from talking about LGBTQ issues. Central Bucks was a culture war lightning rod over the past several years, as the previous school board passed books bans and attacks against LGBTQ students. However, Democrats swept five Moms for Liberty candidates backed by tech-millionaire Paul Martino in November’s election. ✏️ : Sean Kitchen 🎥 : CBSD School Board Meeting Video Feed #Education #Pennsylvania #BucksCounty #CentralBucks #CentralBucksSchoolBoard #MomsforLiberty #M4L #BookBanning #BookBan #BookBans #SaveCBSD #CentralBucksSchoolBoard #PAPolitics #Doylestown #LGBTQ

♬ original sound – Keystone Newsroom

At the beginning of the year, the school board passed a policy that banned Pride Flags from being hung inside Central Bucks schools and prohibited teachers from talking to students about “advocacy issues,” which, in reality, banned teachers from talking about LGBTQ issues.

The school board went as far as hiring the Independence Law Center, an organization tied to the Pennsylvania Family Institute and the Family Research Center, which is described as an anti-LGBTQ Christian nationalist group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The story was first reported by the Bucks County Courier Times.

Martino was the largest individual donor supporting the Republicans running for school board in the district according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

After the new school board was sworn in on Monday, the new board got right to work and began repealing policies put in place by the former board.

According to Philadelphia Gay News, these repealed policies included the prohibition of transgender athletes playing sports, a ban on books with “sexualized content,” and a policy that prohibited teachers from talking about LGBTQ issues.

Author

  • Sean Kitchen

    Sean Kitchen is the Keystone’s political correspondent, based in Harrisburg. Sean is originally from Philadelphia and spent five years working as a writer and researcher for Pennsylvania Spotlight.

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