Appealing Controversial Materials 101

Appealing Controversial Materials 101

Unless you have been living off the grid, you have seen or heard parents raising valid concerns over the controversial content in school media centers at school board meetings around the country. Whether it is sexually explicit, pervasively vulgar or you find the content dark or inappropriate you have the right to appeal the material. Some states have passed legislation that ONLY allows a parent or guardian to file a book appeal. Personally, it seems that any taxpayer in a school district should be able to file an appeal but some states don’t see it that way.



  1. Understand Federal obscenity laws regarding minors.
  2. Research your state laws on obscenity laws and minors.
  3. Research your school district’s media policies.
    1. Media Center Procurement, Review, and Audit Policies
    2. Appeal or Reconsideration Policies
  4. Use our Freedom in Education Rated Books site to see the actual content of highly controversial books and learn if they are in your district.
  5. Here is a reconsideration example for a book appeal if your district fails to provide a form.
  6. Know what books are in your teacher’s classroom library. Do your state obscenity laws for minors or district policies apply to the teacher’s classroom library?
  7. Ask for an alternative reading assignment if any reading assignment given to your child contains material you find controversial or goes against your values.
  8. Ask your teacher for their reading list for the semester/year so there are no surprises.
  9. Browse your child’s online media portal, using their credentials, so you are aware of what they can access/view. Beware of controversial pop-up ads known to appear on many of these portals. Raise concerns with your district. Content on these online portals are dynamic but school district should have filters that prevent sexually explicit materials from being served to your child online.
  10. Join us in promoting our Good Books list and take our Good Books Pledge here.
  11. Join us in our Liberty Story Hour initiative where you can host a story hour reading Heroes of Liberty books in your community.


We encourage parents and guardians to appeal books respectfully. We also highly encourage parents and guardians to join us in our efforts to champion beautifully written books in school and public libraries. It is all too easy to point out the negative, we need to start providing solutions. Let’s encourage our libraries to promote books that expand our children’s imaginations and allow them to see all the beauty and wonder this fantastic world offers. Browse our website for solutions to promote good books.

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