Police in Florida were recently involved in an unusual incident after members of right-wing activist group Moms for Liberty claimed that school librarians were distributing “pornography” to minors.
The Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office received a call on October 25 from Moms for Liberty member Jennifer Tapley, who claimed to have evidence of a crime involving a book checked out by a 17-year-old student from Jay High School.
The book in question was Storm and Fury by Jennifer L. Armentrout, a young adult fantasy novel known for its supernatural elements, such as gargoyles and ghosts, and a protagonist with a degenerative eye disease.
Despite the book’s inclusion on recommended reading lists for young adults, Tapley and fellow Moms for Liberty member Tom Gurski insisted that it contained inappropriate content, citing some passages with sexual themes.
“I’ve got some evidence a crime was committed — pornography given to a minor at a school,” Tapley asserted in the recorded phone call to the sheriff’s office.
She later expressed fear of backlash, requesting to remain anonymous in public records related to her report.
During a subsequent visit to the sheriff’s office, Tapley and Gurski reiterated their claims, stating that Governor Ron DeSantis deemed the material as child pornography, categorizing it as a serious crime.
They presented the book to deputies, highlighting specific passages with orange sticky notes.
According to reports, the passages contained sexual themes, such as “make-out sessions” and one scene where the protagonist almost has sex.
Furthermore, Tapley and Gurski revealed that this was not an isolated incident, claiming to have previously reported another book, Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan, which features an LGBTQ character.
Despite their efforts, records suggest that the Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office referred the matter to the county school district’s director of safety, ultimately closing the case.
The school district has not removed the book from its shelves, and librarians have reportedly not been interviewed by the police.
Armentrout, the author of Storm and Fury, expressed astonishment at the situation.
“I never realized we were living in an era where, apparently, some adults find it appropriate to contact the police over a fictional book involving gargoyles,” she said.
Armentrout also stated that she wrote the book to educate children on a rare eye disease in “a fun, suspenseful and adventurous way.”
Tapley, who is running for a local school board seat, has stated on her campaign website that she aims to remove books containing “harmful content” from school libraries. In response to the controversy, she denied actively seeking out books to report to the police.