Protestors argue against banned books in Brevard County; school board member bites back

Ahead of the regularly scheduled Brevard County School Board meeting Tuesday, protestors held up signs saying, "Ban the Book Censors" and "Book Bans are UnAmerican and Fascist." 

One of the people in attendance was a teacher who worked in Brevard County for 31 years, Virginia Hamilton.

"I just think that the teachers are feeling scared to say a lot of things, do a lot of things, and now that I’m retired, I can come out and say a lot of things," said Hamilton. "Parent choice is fine, but you’re taking away my choice, and that’s what’s upsetting."

"I didn’t have any trouble when I was in school in the 80s, and it seems like as I get older, it seems like a lot of those things are being taken away," added another protestor, Jacob Albert.

The protestors later headed into the school board meeting. But not everyone was on their side.  

"There’s no books being banned here in Brevard County," one person argued during the meeting’s public comment section, "because the organization that’s here in Brevard County that’s calling it book banning actually has a nonprofit that they’re buying these books to give out to anybody as much as they want. So if there’s book banning, where are they coming in from, the cartels in Mexico?" 

A lot of the vitriol seemed to be focused on one particular Board member: Gene Trent. Trent told FOX 35 News the Board’s new policies for reviewing books are in response to the most recent election.

"We have some like-minded people serving on the board. There was a review committee already in place. We just saw that there were some flaws, and we’re fixing it." 

Brevard County Public Schools did already remove one book from their school’s libraries. The novel, called Gender Queer, included animated photos that some parents found sexually explicit. But Board Member Trent argued over the terminology of "book banning."

"Banning books? Not a chance," he said. "These publishers can feel free to sell their books on Amazon or in bookstores. Parents, you can put these books on your Christmas list if you want your kids to read them, but it’s our jobs to look out for children, and that’s why we’re here."