The superintendent of Forest Hills School District in Michigan, Dan Behm, has come under fire for banning LGBTQ+ books from a local high school library. Behm initially denied that he was responsible for the removal of six books, but later admitted that he had taken it upon himself to do so in order to prevent conflict with conservative parents who were uncomfortable with their children being exposed to topics related to the LGBTQ+ community. This decision violated district procedures, which require book removals to be approved.
Behm sent a letter of apology to the district staff, acknowledging his mistake and expressing his regret. He admitted that he had acted hastily in removing the books and should have consulted with professionals and teachers with formal expertise in the area of media centers. The National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) accused Behm of secretly removing books, and the targeted books were specific to the LGBTQ+ community.
Behm further acknowledged the importance of treating all people with kindness, respect, and love, and the need to include books that reflect the experiences of the LGBTQ+ community in school libraries. He expressed his commitment to his own learning and supporting the efforts of teachers to help all kids learn, grow, and thrive.
The controversy over the banning of LGBTQ+ books in Forest Hills has been ongoing for two years, with angry parents attending board meetings and accusing schools of indoctrination. The issue highlights the need for inclusive and diverse reading materials in schools to promote understanding and acceptance of different communities and cultures. Behm’s admission of wrongdoing and apology serve as a reminder that decisions about what materials are included in school libraries should be made in consultation with experts and with consideration for the values of inclusion and diversity.