On November 17, James Grosh, a resident in the Berea City School District — from where I graduated high school — received an email from Ana Chapman, who was then the district’s school board president. The email threatened that Grosh will be banned from speaking at public board meetings if he again uses vulgarity during the meetings.
In fact, Grosh didn’t actually utter vulgar words — except once — during the public comment period at the November 7 board meeting. Instead, he played an audio clip from the book, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl.
In a short 20-second segment read from the book, “eating pussy” was referenced seven times. In all, according to somebody who took the time to count, the book contains 15 such references, along with 79 “fucks” and 11 “dicks” among other vocabulary test favorites.
In her email, Chapman reprimanded and threatened Grosh for exposing the vulgarity at a meeting of adults. Meanwhile, the book is available, with board approval, to students at Berea-Midpark Middle School, which encompasses grades 5 to 8 — generally ages 10 to 13.
“On behalf of the Berea City School District Board of Education, I am writing to notify you that, in accordance with board policy, we will not further permit or tolerate a repeat of obscene and vulgar statements and/or audio that have permeated your remarks in recent public participation presentations at board meetings,” Chapman wrote. “Should you decide to repeat your curious need to speak or publish obscenities and indecencies, you will immediately forfeit the ability to address the board in public session.”
In reality, I think Chapman should explain the Berea School District’s “curious need” to offer “obscenities and indecencies” to 10-year-old children.
Referring to board members as “groomers,” Grosh correctly observed, during the November 7 board meeting, “that’s what this book is. It’s grooming. It’s pedophilia. It’s sexualizing kids, and it needs to stop.”
He added, “Maybe kids read this book before the hazing incident. Maybe that’s where they got the idea from.”
The hazing incident to which Grosh referred has made the school district a defendant in two lawsuits filed in October—and possibly more to come—in U.S. District Court, Northern Ohio District.
The plaintiffs of the suits include, in addition to district leaders, former members of the Berea-Midpark football team whose “initiation” to the team involved being held down and anally raped with a “sexual massage device” by their manly teammates — who also made video recordings of the festivities, the suits say.
In all, 11 students were raped, sexually assaulted, abducted, restrained and/or hazed, according to the suits. So far, some of the attackers, who apparently were at least as enamored with their teammates’ rectums as they were with playing football, already have been convicted on felony and misdemeanor charges.
“The district and the board knew that there was a problem with the team culture and noted in an evaluation of coach [and defendant Gregory] Hanchuck that they needed to change the weight room culture and expectations,” according to the lawsuit.
Sounds like a good idea.
“After being made aware of the abuse suffered by the plaintiff, as well as at least 10 other children, the Berea defendants, in particular the coaching staff and [Superintendent Tracy] Wheeler, further traumatized plaintiff by blaming the victims for what happened,” one of the suits says.
After reports about the sexual attacks became public, Wheeler issued a public statement that ignored the rapes, but encouraged fans to root on their Friday night heroes: “As we continue to move forward and our football team enters the 2019 season, I hope that our Titan community rallies around the Berea-Midpark football team and the student athletes who proudly wear the blue and orange and compete on the field.”
Rah, Rah. Sis-Boom-Bah!
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is one of a long list of books that parents from communities across the country have complained to school boards about. Those parents generally are conservative leaning people who resent the radical sexualization of children in government schools, and most believe that parents — not the state — should make the choices about the sexual content their children are exposed to — especially children who have yet to reach puberty. Conservatives who are concerned about such things are generally branded as “haters,” “book burners,” “fascists” and other derogatory terms. Oh, yeah, I almost forgot — “Trumpers.”
In her email, Chapman admonished Grosh: “On behalf of the Berea City School District Board of Education, I am writing to notify you that, in accordance with Board policy, we will not tolerate a repeat of obscene and vulgar statements and/or audio that have permeated your remarks in recent public participations at Board meetings. This is not appropriate conduct and Board policy appropriately allows the presiding officer to terminate a participant’s session when obscene comments are made.”
Evidently, vulgar and obscene statements in Berea are reserved for the eyes of children. Pointing out the district’s hypocrisy and impropriety, I assume, makes Grosh one of those “domestic terrorists” the National School Board Association alerted President Joe Biden about in its letter of September 29, 2021.