Two New Jersey mothers, Kristen Cobo and Christina Balestriere, are facing an unexpected defamation lawsuit filed by Roxbury High School librarian Roxana Russo Caivano. The suit comes after the mothers voiced their concerns about explicit books found in the school library during a Board of Education meeting.
Cobo and Balestriere initially raised the issue in August 2022, when they learned that certain books, deemed equivalent to “hardcore pornography,” were available to students as young as 13. One such book, “Gender Queer: A Memoir,” has attracted nationwide criticism for its explicit content and depictions of mature intimate acts. Yet, despite their efforts, the controversial books remain in the library.
Parents sued for speaking out against sexually explicit books in library: 'It's disgusting' https://t.co/ig0PJHSGeD
— Fox News (@FoxNews) April 28, 2023
After months of unaddressed requests to remove the books, the concerned mothers took their grievances to the Roxbury Board of Education’s March 6 meeting. Cobo explained, “We spoke to the fact that these are our children, nobody else’s. And we have the right to direct their upbringing and those books do not match the morals and values that I teach in my home.”
A few weeks later, Caivano filed the defamation lawsuit, claiming the mothers defamed her by questioning her content choices and accusing her of being a “child predator” and “luring children with pornography.” Balestriere believes the lawsuit is an attempt to intimidate and silence concerned parents, stating, “It’s just to, in my opinion, scare not only us but from other parents speaking up and probably just to hit us with as many legal fees as possible.”
However, Cobo and Balestriere refuse to back down and encourage other parents to stand against the radical ideologies infiltrating American classrooms and libraries. Cobo passionately declared, “We have one chance to get this right with our children and we are their last line of defense against this agenda, and I say speak out. Who cares what they call you. You know your truth. You are on the right side of history.”
The case has garnered national attention and highlights the ongoing battle between parents and educational institutions over the content available to young students. Organizations such as Moms for Liberty have also expressed disapproval and frustration regarding these controversial books in U.S. public school libraries.
Corinne Mullen, a First Amendment law specialist, will represent the New Jersey mothers in the lawsuit. As the case unfolds, it serves as a reminder of the importance of parents’ involvement in their children’s education and the right to voice their concerns, even in the face of intimidation tactics.