Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan accused Republicans on Tuesday of trying to distract voters with the issue of explicit material being allowed in public schools.

Whitmer, who is seeking a second term as Michigan’s chief executive this year, said during a gubernatorial debate that Republicans were inflaming the issue for political gain.

“I see how politicians try to wedge communities against one another,” said Whitmer. “It is dangerous and it is selfish.”

The governor accused her GOP challenger, Tudor Dixon, of using the issue to obscure a conservative agenda and ties to former Trump-era Education Secretary and Michigan political heavyweight Betsy Devos.

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FILE-Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addresses business leaders, Monday, Dec. 20, 2021, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio, File)
(AP Photo/Carlos Osorio, File)

“Do you really think that books pose a greater danger to our kids and gun violence does? She’s trying to divert attention from the fact that she is bankrolled by Betsy DeVos.”

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Dixon, who has gained ground in recent polls, said during the debate that Whitmer was unwilling to stand with parents concerned about explicit material in schools, including LGBTQ books.

"We're talking about pornography in schools.  Parents have risen up across the state," said gubernatorial GOP nominee Tudor Dixon.

“We’re talking about pornography in schools. Parents have risen up across the state,” said gubernatorial GOP nominee Tudor Dixon.
(Tristan Wheelock/Bloomberg)

“We’re talking about pornography in schools. Parents have risen up across the state,” said the Republican nominee. “They’ve asked Gretchen Whitmer to comment and she’s been silent on this issue.”

Whitmer said there was a middle ground to be staked out on the issue by allowing parents to express their concerns to local school boards, while simultaneously ensuring children feel safe and accepted.

The issue of explicit content in Michigan's school libraries has garnered national attention

The issue of explicit content in Michigan’s school libraries has garnered national attention
(Reuters)

The issue of explicit content in Michigan’s school libraries has garnered national attention. Earlier this month, Muslim Americans in Dearborn turned out in high numbers to protest the school district’s decision to include LGBTQ books in school libraries. The parents claimed that many of the books were sexually explicit and inappropriate for young children.

“We’re not worried about [LGBT] people,” said a Dearborn parent, who attended the school board meeting. “We’re worried about our children. If they wind up gay at 18, who cares? But the school library shouldn’t be letting 10-year-olds read books that detail sexual acts.”

Gov. Whitmer also addressed the state’s closure of public schools during the COVID pandemic.

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