The Bath-area school board at its meeting Monday. In blue, leaning into the microphone, is board Chairperson Lou Ensel. RSU 1 / YouTube screenshot

The Bath-area school board Monday night unanimously rejected a parent’s request to remove the puberty-focused book “It’s Perfectly Normal” from the Woolwich Central School.

Alysia Coats, mother of a fifth-grade student at the school, said the book “has no place” in the school due to its sexual content and nude illustrations. The book is kept at the school, which includes students in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade, for use by teachers only in developing classes on puberty and sexual health.

“It’s Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, and Sexual Health” was written in 1994 by Robie Harris and illustrated by Michael Emberley. It has been one of the most-targeted books for removal from schools and public libraries for its depictions of homosexuality, nudity, sex education and abortion, according to the American Library Association.

“The book ‘It’s Perfectly Normal’ is, in fact, perfectly normal,” Coats told the board. “It addresses topics that are important to learn about when the time is right. But who should be deciding when the time is right?

“Is school really an appropriate setting for children to learn about topics such as sex, homosexuality, abortion, ejaculation and wet dreams?”

Coat added that the book’s illustrations are “borderline pornographic.”


The cover of “It’s Perfectly Normal,” a book that has either been banned by some school districts or are being considered for bans in Maine. Gregory Rec / Portland Press Herald file photo

Regional School Unit 1 Board Chairperson Lou Ensel said the book is appropriate for developing health curricula.

“It’s not controversial to the mainstream medical, psychological or any other association because they’ve all backed it,” he said. “This is a way of addressing very important topics so children can be safe and learn about this in the best way possible.

“For some kids, this is the best opportunity they’re going to have, in a nonjudgmental place, to hear about some of these topics.”

Ensel emphasized the school district, which covers Bath, Arrowsic, Phippsburg and Woolwich, sends letters home to parents giving them the option to opt their student out of classes containing sexual content.

Woolwich Central School Principal Jason Libby said a school committee reviewed the book’s material and recommended it stay.

“This material does promote the mission of RSU 1,” he said. “(It) gives comprehensive and accurate information that staff can use at their discretion to develop units of study.”

No other parents spoke for or against the book Monday. Last year, Coats asked the board to remove the book “Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out” from the Woolwich Central School library, arguing its subject matter is inappropriate. The board unanimously decided to keep the book.

Last year, the Bonny Eagle school district board voted 10-1 to keep “It’s Perfectly Normal” on the selves of the middle school library after a group of parents asked to have it removed.

The book, which says it’s geared to children 10 and older, has sold more than a million copies.

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