The consistent dull roar of concern about books in elementary, middle and high schools voiced by Unify Carmel and similar groups nationwide led me to read the books in question. I grew up in Carmel, raised my family in Washington Township and moved to Carmel a year ago. The diatribe that has become school board fodder and social media filler is not a surprise, it is a reminder of why I went to Brebeuf Jesuit and my children graduated from North Central.
The conversation has led me to read these books. Are some graphic? Yes. Are they written at an age-appropriate level? Yes. Have they been heralded by authors, physicians, educators? Yes. Is it inappropriate to read excerpts in public places and judge based on a paragraph or two? Yes.
Growing up Jewish in Carmel meant I was one of two Jewish students at the middle school. When a social studies teacher lectured how Jews killed Jesus, the reaction by the principal was that it was true but should have been described better. There was no mention of my heritage in our books, classes or library, except for a few paragraphs in discussion of World War II.
I have spent a career in health care and a volunteer career working with youth. To believe an elementary school student has never met an LGBTQ person is a joke. It is as ridiculous as thinking a middle school student has never thought about masturbation. If you believe these topics have never been discussed in public school, you are wrong. Even back in the ‘70s, the P.E. teachers were given time to “teach” sex ed.
Unify Carmel is not entirely wrong. Rarely is any position in a discussion 100 percent correct or incorrect. It would have made life in middle school very different if someone like me was represented in the books, movies or content of Carmel Middle School; it may have prevented bullying by students, parents and faculty. Fear should not be placed in possessing these materials; the fear should be looking the other way and discounting their presence – or life they reflect, in our world.
Brandon Roger, Carmel