OAN Brooke Mallory
UPDATED 6:04 PM – Friday, April 28, 2023
A high school librarian in New Jersey is suing two mothers for raising objections about sexually-graphic books in their children’s school library. The mothers declared that they would not be intimidated and urged other guardians to speak out alongside them.
The parents involved in the unanticipated defamation lawsuit are Kristen Cobo and Christina Balestriere of Roxbury, New Jersey.
Roxbury High School librarian Roxana Russo Caivano sued the mothers after they spoke out at a Board of Education meeting about sexually explicit books that were available in the school library. Caivano claimed that they had defamed her by questioning her “content” choices and calling her a “child predator,” as well as accusing her of “luring children with pornography.”
Cobo and Balestriere said that they first brought up the problem after learning that some books, which they say amounted to “hardcore pornography,” were available to pupils as young as 13-years-old in the school library.
The book “Gender Queer: A Memoir,” which has drawn major criticism from parents across the country and has been challenged in several districts for describing masturbation and explicitly depicting sexual acts, is the subject of their complaint.
Groups like Moms for Liberty have also voiced disapproval and frustration towards the inclusion of these books into the U.S. public school system’s libraries.
“We went straight to the administrators, to the school board. We spoke out month after month. The first time we brought [it] to their attention was in August of 2022. I can tell you today all those books still remain in the library,” Cobo declared on the program “Jesse Watters Primetime.”
The New Jersey mothers eventually contacted the Roxbury Board of Education after months of unanswered requests to remove the books from the library, and they were asked to express their concerns at the board’s March 6th meeting.
“We were arguing [that] we’re in the fight against the sexualization of our children in America and especially in New Jersey… And we feel that this content should not be made available to minor children, especially in the school district where our children are quickly rising. And that’s what we spoke to. We spoke to the fact that these are our children, nobody else’s. And we have the right to direct their upbringing and those books do not match the morals and values that I teach in my home,” Cobo said.
Cobo, Balestriere, and two other unnamed people were served with the lawsuit a few weeks later. According to Balestriere, the lawsuit is an attempt to intimidate concerned parents into silence.
“Absolutely. There’s no doubt in my mind that that’s what this is. It’s just to, in my opinion, scare not only us but from other parents speaking up and probably just to hit us with as many legal fees as possible,” she said.
However, Cobo and Balestriere said they have no plans to back down and expressed optimism that others in a similar situation will have the courage to speak out against radical ideologies that have infiltrated American classrooms and libraries.
“We have one chance to get this right with our children and we are their last line of defense against this agenda… And I say speak out. Who cares what they call you. You know your truth. You are on the right side of history. And, again, we are the last ones. We have parents, grandparents, teachers reaching out to us saying thank you. We have watched this go on in Roxbury for years. And we’re disgusted, and thank you for speaking out. So speak your truth and don’t be – don’t let anybody silence you. This is about the kids,” Cobo maintained.
Corinne Mullen, an attorney who specializes in First Amendment law, will be representing the parents.
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