HEYWORTH, Ill. (CITC) — Illinois parents reportedly called the police after a local middle school teacher allowed her students to read a book that tackled the topics of gender and sexuality.
Sarah Bonner, 42, held what she called a "book tasting" for her students in mid-March, according to TODAY.com, which added that one of the books Bonner offered her class was the controversial title "This Book is Gay" by Juno Dawson.
I wanted to give them a smattering of fiction and nonfiction to choose from on a day that we call ‘Reading Monday," Bonner told TODAY. "We just read and celebrate books."'
Bonner's "book tasting" was held on a Monday. By Wednesday, she says she "received notice that parents had gotten a hold of pictures from that book that their child had taken in class."
By Friday, I was told that parents had filed a police report against me for child endangerment," Bonner reportedly said.
TODAY says that it reached out to local police to confirm the filing of the report. The local police chief reportedly confirmed the report, but declined to comment further on the matter. Crisis in the Classroom also reached out to that same Heyworth Police Department seeking comment but has yet to hear back.
Bonner was reportedly placed on administrative leave from her district after the police report was filed.
In response to the incident and being placed on administrative leave, Bonner told TODAY she has decided to resign. According to a personal website, Bonner taught middle school English for the Heyworth Community Unit School District 4 in Heyworth, Illinois.
The notion that I was putting children in danger because of books — I didn’t feel safe," Bonner told TODAY. "I knew I couldn’t go back."
Bonner also told TODAY that she had "been fortunate up until now to be supported by the communities that I've taught with," but "signs" began springing up "at the beginning of this school year" that pointed to a "heightened culture war that's continuing to build nationwide."
And many books have been removed from school libraries recently, with a report from PEN America claiming that more than 1,600 books were banned during the 2021-2022 school year.
Bonner told TODAY that while she understands that parents "know their children best... The difference is that I have that love and care for all students, not just a singular student."
In regards to the book that was challenged in my classroom, it was a message to the LGBTQ+ community in my room and in my district that they're 'less than,'" Bonner reportedly explained.
States across America have been tackling their constituents' competing desires to either ban controversial books or allow them to be available to children. Schools in Maine, Vermont, Pennsylvania and Oklahoma have critics of the books working to ban them.
The bans come as over a quarter of U.S. high schoolers now identify as LGBT, according to CDC data. Critics who wish to ban the books often point to this uptick in LGBT identity as a pushed "agenda," but LGBT advocates call such concerns "ignorant."