Heated words and intense emotions over a book parents call ‘pornographic’ lead to criminal charges filed at a local school board meeting

New Jersey

WAYNE, New Jersey — Heated words and intense emotions at a New Jersey school board meeting led to the board’s president filing criminal charges against a resident who threatened her. Video recorded at the meeting captured the encounter.

It was all part of reactions to some books that have been included in the library collection at one of the local schools, Wayne Hill High. 

Some residents told the school board that some images in the books were pornographic, and those residents expressed their feelings very vocally.

It happened on Thursday evening at the school board meeting held at the high school.  

During the public comment section of the meeting, one woman took a copy of “Gender Queer,” one of the books that some residents are requesting to be removed from the school, and began to read from it and describe its content.

The book, published by Simon and Schuster, is a graphic memoir by the writer Maia Kobabe. Some of the content of the book shows genitalia, nudity, and at least one sex act.  

Jon “Ferris” Meredith, the owner and publisher of the TapInto Wayne website, was at the Thursday night school board meeting.

He said that after one resident tried to read from “Gender Queer” and was instructed by the board not to, the meeting intensified.

“The crowd started feeding in, and the energy just kind of turned this into chaos,” Meredith said. “My immediate reaction at the end of that meeting was just, ‘Wow, what just happened here?'”

He recorded video of the meeting, which showed the situation intensifying.

“Emotions were so high during the entire meeting that I just felt that it was becoming unproductive,” Meredith said.

With Wayne Police Department officers present, who physically kept some attendees from board members, the situation eventually cooled down.  

But that was after one resident walked to the front of the auditorium where the meeting was taking place, and verbally threatened Board President Cathy Kazan.  

She filed charges with police.

After the board voted to continue the meeting, the most intense emotions subsided.

It now appears that residents and the board are seeking resolution, following a very heated gathering on Thursday night.

“A few people got very passionate, too passionate, and I don’t think it would be fair to paint the entire group by those few people,” Meredith said.

Requests by PIX11 News to the school board for comment have not yet received a response. 

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