Parents express discomfort with coloring book for adults in classroom at CPS school

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CHICAGO (CBS) — An adult coloring book was shown to middle schoolers at a CPS elementary school — and some parents say it shows too much.

As CBS 2’s Sabrina Franza reported, Chicago public school rules don’t require teachers to tell parents about books before bringing them to class. But parents want to be part of the conversation.

“In dealing with another person’s child, a person shouldn’t just have carte blanche to expose them to what they think is right,” said Jason McElroy, a sixth-grade parent at the school. Edgar Allan Poe Classic, 10538 S. Langley Ave. .

Alice Oseman’s Heartstopper coloring book and corresponding comic are advertised online as being for adults. It tells the story of a couple named Nick and Charlie – and on the cover illustration for one edition, the parents pointed out that it looks like Charlie’s hand may be in Nick’s pants.

The photos inside the coloring books are apparently PG. The comics are about both alcohol and sex.

It’s in more than one school. Poe Classic School students are K-8.

“We’ve already had enough with social media and the internet itself,” McElroy said. “It makes it a little harder for parents to try to navigate and control what their kids are exposed to.”

Parents say a seventh- and eighth-grade teacher’s classroom library had two Heartstopper books on display for students to read, and sixth-grade students also had access to the library. The books have not been assigned for reading and are not part of the program.

Parents say the classroom is also designed to be a safe space for students to explore their sexuality – as part of the Alliance between Gender and Sexuality.

As for the artwork on the cover, McElroy said, “If it was a man and a woman, I would still feel the same way. No.”

We asked to speak to the principal, who had planned to organize a Thursday evening to speak with the parents about what was and was not appropriate at school. He couldn’t talk to us.

We also asked an expert, who said books can be a great teaching tool.

“I’ve had kids come to my office confused, and they’re not ready to talk to their parents,” said Niranjan Karnik, director of the Institute for Juvenile Research and a child psychologist at the University of ‘Illinois to Chicago. “They’re afraid to talk to their parents and just want a trusted adult they can talk to.”

The CPS rules allow contesting library books. They say nothing about restrictions based on suggestive language; the rules actually encourage the inclusion of literature for students of all backgrounds.

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