Since 2007, Jodi Picoult’s best-selling novel Nineteen Minutes has been taught as part of the curriculum at Gilford High School in New Hampshire.
The book touches on the subject of high school bullying and includes a school shooting. However, that is not what one father was upset about.
William Baer attended a school board meeting on Monday night to object to the teaching of the book. He claimed that there were scenes in the novel that reminded him of an “x-rated film.”
“I’ve never read anything like this,” Baer said. “It’s like the transcript for a triple-X-rated movie. I’m outraged that Gilford High School would require my daughter to read this kind of material,” Baer continued.
“I feel that I’m in the process of being violated by the state of New Hampshire’s education system. It’s not there place to dictate and I’m outraged that Gilford High School would require my daughter to read this kind of material.”
Baer was further unsettled when the board enforced their two-minute rule. The board allows parents to speak for two minutes before moving on to the next speaker.
Although this is a common rule of the meetings, Baer claimed that his First Amendment Rights had been violated. “It was basically, you make a statement, say what you want and sit down,” Baer said. “Sit down and shut up, basically, and that’s not how you interact with adults.”
After Baer voiced his opinion, he was led out of the meeting by a police officer at the request of the school board. He was then arrested on a charge of disorderly conduct. Gilford Police Lt. James Leach explained that Baer spoke out of turn. “He spoke out of order,” Leach said. “Someone else was given the floor and was speaking. He interrupted them and continued after being asked to stop. He was then asked to leave and refused to leave unless he was arrested, so he was arrested.
Image via jodipicoult.com