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On book banning in Pinellas schools, there are two sides to ‘parental rights’ | Letters
Here’s what readers are saying in Sunday’s letters to the editor.
"Gender Queer: A Memoir," by Maia Kobabe.
"Gender Queer: A Memoir," by Maia Kobabe. [ ONI PRESS | TNS ]
Published Nov. 28, 2021

What about the right to read?

Pinellas school district orders removal of ‘Gender Queer’ book | Nov. 19

In a time when Florida politicians are touting “parental rights,” an ironic situation has developed in Pinellas County. The Pinellas public school administration removed the graphic novel Gender Queer from collections at Dunedin and Lakewood high schools, preventing all students’ access to the book, no matter what their parents might say. Reason? The Teaching and Learning Services Committee deemed the book “not to be age-appropriate for all high school students.” Pinellas policy allows parents to remove their child’s access to a specific book; this decision removes this book from all students. Deciding “appropriateness” based on the lowest common denominator (least mature in age or development) denies access also to those not in that group. A 1982 Supreme Court decision recognizes the difference between classroom curriculum and optional library materials, saying schools may not decide what students may read on their own. Parents may. The school (or its board) may not do so based on personal opinion. If you, as parents, want to restrict your child’s reading, do so. But do not restrict what my child may read. Pinellas has a review policy, and it did not follow its own policy. The decision needs to be reversed.

Carol M. Dunn, Clearwater

The writer is a retired local high school and junior college teacher.

Good news

Good news in the Nov. 21 Times

With all the ugliness, divisiveness and overall negativity in this world, reading the three stories about the California man who found his wedding band among the ruins of his burnt home, the young man who despite a blood disease thought of feeding the homeless people over his own illness, and the veteran who is helping other veterans being paired with dogs filled me with such joy that I cried. It was truly touching to read these stories; it puts everyone’s petty issues on a back burner to what should really be important in this world. We have much to be thankful for, people.

Deborah Hoffman, Tampa

Mediocre education

Pandemic virtual learning

During the pandemic and virtual learning, studies have documented many students lost progress in math and reading among other courses in public schools. The prestigious and authoritative Organization for Economic Development and Cooperation recently ranked American students’ education attainment in the middle of the pack among the 38 member nations. It’s clear from that statistic that we’re not giving young Americans the education they deserve and that America needs to grow. That should make some ask about how long and how many vacations a year there should be and whether a longer school year should be considered for the benefit of students in a competitive society and world.

James Gillespie, St. Petersburg

My Medicare plan

Medicare Advantage spending needs a closer look | Editorial, Nov. 21

I retired two years ago and initially chose Medicare A/B as well as a supplemental plan and a Part D plan. I am lucky to be mostly healthy. However, I had no savings to my medications, and simply forwarded payment to two companies that provided nothing in return. My second retirement year, I chose an “Advantage plan,” and my meds are all covered, co-pays and more, and my costs went down, likely due to bypassing all this extra layer of business services versus my Advantage plan. My question is: Who pushes for investigation into such plans being overpaid? Might it be the secondary insurance and drug providers who are losing customers? Regarding payments, I would be foolish to assume that only Advantage providers manipulate the coding of charges for their own benefit. Until our society realizes that our health care costs are a greatly impacted by Washington lobbyists, our costs will simply continue to increase. In truth, politics plays the biggest role in the costs.

Kurt Klotz, Largo

Not all negative

400 years of regret | Perspective, Nov. 21

How disappointing, but not surprising, for the Tampa Bay Times to headline their Perspective page on the Sunday before Thanksgiving with a totally negative recounting of the events surrounding the history of the Pilgrims at Plymouth. Was everything positive and wonderful in those times? Probably not, but it is almost as if the media of this country is on a crusade to highlight every negative thing in our country’s history. One can only wonder what they will find to criticize about the birth of Christ and our Christmas celebrations.

Paul R. Johnson, Temple Terrace

History lesson

400 years of regret | Perspective, Nov. 21

“We had a pray-or-die policy. ... If you didn’t become a Christian, you had to run away or be killed,” Mother Bear, a Wampanoag clan mother, is quoted as saying. These are the same “Christian principles” that some on the right refer to when talking about the founding of America.

Jim Donelon, St. Petersburg