Principal who banned gay books charged with child pornography
“As I said to some friends last night when I got the news, ‘You can’t make this sh-- up,'" one of the authors whose books were banned said.
By Gwen Aviles
A former Kentucky school principal has been indicted on child pornography charges, a decade after he first made headlines for banning books with LGBTQ storylines.
Phillip Todd Wilson, the former principal of the Clark County Area Technology Center in Winchester, Kentucky, was charged with 17 child pornography and distribution charges in August, according to Kentucky state police.
A spokesperson for the Kentucky Department of Education told NBC News that Wilson was no longer employed at the school.
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Wilson, 54, was the principal of the Montgomery County High School, another institution in Kentucky, 10 years ago when he banded together with other administrators to remove several young-adult novels that had been listed as optional reading in English classes. Wilson fought to ban books with “homosexual content," as well as those that mentioned drugs, sex, child abuse and suicide, because he deemed these topics “inappropriate” for students, according to a 2009 article from The Lexington Herald-Leader.
The four books that were reportedly challenged by Wilson and his associates and eventually pulled from the curriculum were “Twisted” by Laurie Halse Anderson, “Deadline” by Chris Crutcher, “Lessons from a Dead Girl” by Jo Knowles and “Unwind” by Neal Shusterman.
Though Knowles' book is about a girl who endures sexual and emotional abuse from a female friend, Knowles said her book was banned for "homosexual content."
“I was a very new author at the time all this happened and the press coverage was overwhelming,” Knowles, author of “Lessons from a Dead Girl,” wrote in a recent post on Facebook. “I was horrified by the accusations he and the superintendent made. And heartbroken for the brave teacher, Risha Allen Mullins, who stood up for our books and faced so much unfair criticism.”
In response to news of Wilson's indictment, Knowles added, “As I said to some friends last night when I got the news, ‘You can’t make this sh-- up.'”
Laurie Halse Anderson — whose book "Twisted" examines toxic masculinity and includes a character accused of being gay after he turns down sex with a girl who is too intoxicated to consent — also took to Twitter after learning about the charges against Wilson.
"Books that help kids examine the violence, abuse and shame they've endured are very threatening to the people who commit those acts of violence, abuse, and shaming," she wrote.