GOP candidate slammed at debate for obsession with book-banning

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D)
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) Photo: Screenshot

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) criticized her Republican challenger Tudor Dixon over her call to ban certain books in schools.

During the second and final Michigan gubernatorial debate on Tuesday night, the candidates were asked how they would make sure that students have access to inclusive literature while also addressing the concerns of both parents and teachers.

Dixon responded that one of the biggest concerns she’s hearing from Michigan parents is about “inappropriate” material in school libraries.

“We’re talking about sexual content. We’re talking about pornography in schools. Parents have risen up across the state,” the Trump-endorsed candidate claimed. “I stand with those parents that want to make sure we go back to the basics of reading, writing, and math in our schools.”

Whitmer countered by acknowledging that parents have the right to understand the materials and curriculum their children are being taught in public schools.

“Parents can attend parent-teacher conferences, take part in the debate that is happening. And these are happening at the local level, where they should be so that parents can be involved,” she said. “We also have a duty to make sure that all children feel accepted and safe and can learn and play when they are in school. I reject the false choice that it has to be one or the other.”

She also criticized Dixon’s rhetoric around the issue, calling what she saw as the Republican’s attempt to divide communities “dangerous and selfish.”

“We need to bring down the temperature and solve the problems to make sure parents are involved and students feel comfortable and we’re giving them a robust education,” Whitmer said.

After Dixon claimed that Whitmer was refusing to “stand with parents on this issue,” the governor questioned Dixon’s legislative priorities.

“Do you really think books are more dangerous than guns? Do you really think that books pose a greater danger to our kids than gun violence does,” Whitmer asked. “Mrs. Dixon is trying to distract us. She’s trying to divert attention from the fact that she’s bankrolled by Betsy DeVos. She’s endorsed Betsy DeVos’s plan to drain half a billion dollars out of our public schools.”

Dixon opposes red-flag laws, which allow police to confiscate firearms from people deemed to pose a danger to themselves or others. She also supports allowing Michiganders to carry concealed weapons without a permit. She supports former Trump administration Education Secretary DeVos’s proposed school voucher plan for Michigan.

During a media event earlier on Tuesday calling for state Superintendent Michael Rice’s resignation over teacher training videos on LGBTQ issues, Dixon said she would support a statewide ban on “pornographic” books in schools. She has also proposed a “Parents Right to Know Act,” which would ban discussion of “sex and gender theory” in grades K–3, similar to Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law. She has called for banning transgender athletes from participating in school sports as well.

Real Clear Politics’ polling average shows Whitmer leading Dixon by 3.2 points.

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