AURORA | Cherry Creek schools officials said they’ve been inundated with inflammatory messages, some threatening, after social media posts surfaced making false claims about inappropriate library books and district employees.
Superintendent Chris Smith said in an email to parents Tuesday that the district has received hundreds of phone calls, emails and social media posts he considered anti-LGTBQ and conspiratorial.
“I will not tolerate threats made to our community or abusive language or insults directed toward our teachers and staff members who genuinely care about our students and work tirelessly every day to inspire them to learn and grow,” Smith said in the letter. “ I will not tolerate harassment or attacks against our LGBTQ+ community. The attacks from last week were driven by hate and have no place in our schools.”
A search of social media posts reveals incendiary Cherry Creek posts regarding library books and employees connected to Colorado Parent Advocacy Network, a right-wing group of activists focusing on public education. In addition, posts were connected to a far-right Twitter/X group calling themselves “Libs of TikTok.”
The Anti-Defamation League says Libs of TikTok is “a popular anti-LGBTQ+ twitter account operated by former real estate agent Chaya Raichik.” The account has 2.5 million followers and stokes “anti-LGBTQ+ hostility. The individuals, events and organizations targeted by the account are frequent targets of harassment, threats and violence.”
The group published a blog post Sept. 21 detailing their attempts to contact the Cherry Creek district about sexually explicit books they said are in elementary school libraries.
The books are not among stacks in those schools, according to school district spokesperson Lauren Snell.
The books in question are: “Gender Queer,” “This Book is Ga,” “Flame,” “Me, Earl and the Dying Girl,” “It’s Perfectly Normal,” “Blankets,” and “Fun Home.”
.@CCSDK12 blocked the libsoftiktok domain when we reached out about pornographic books they’re offering students. We tried 20 different email addresses!
They offer “Gender Queer” in elementary school!
What else are they trying to hide?
Full story here!https://t.co/jtvZBsm46C
— Libs of TikTok (@libsoftiktok) September 21, 2023
Soon after the district began receiving messages, officials received an anonymous email making threats against two administration buildings and three elementary schools. Sheriff officials later said they searched schools for possible bombs.
The Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office investigated the threat and determined that it was not credible, officials said.
According to Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Deputy John Bartmann, district personnel searched the inside of the buildings while ACSO’s explosive detection canines searched the exterior. Nothing was found in the search, and the threat was determined to be unfounded.
Not all the schools and offices were in the ACSO’s jurisdiction, and the information was shared with Aurora and Greenwood Village Police Departments.
This is still an open investigation, and ASCO is working to find where threatening emails originated.
The Libs of TikTok blog post states that their emails to the district were blocked. Then, they created a fake email account, posing as a concerned parent and sent emails to the board of education.
The blog post ends with a call to action, informing parents to contact the superintendent, district leadership and the board of education directors to ask why they blocked Libs of Tiktok.
Yesterday, the Colorado Parent Advocacy Network released a statement on Facebook stating that district employees should not have been threatened. They said they encourage open dialogue, advocated for transparency from the school district and said they want to work to build a non-political and safe environment.
However, they also published a post on Facebook early Sept. 21, about the district blocking the Libs of TikTok account and questioning why the district was allowing the targeted books to be in schools.
The Colorado group will also be hosting an event on X, formerly known as Twitter, 4:30 p.m. Wednesday. The event is titled “Evidence of Harm in Colorado Schools: Porn in the Libraries.”
🎧TUNE IN @ 4:30 PM MDT 9/27: https://t.co/bP9FDZLLTT
Defending human dignity. Opposing sexual exploitation. Leading the movement through research, litigation, corporate and legislative policy.
➡️Follow @NCOSE https://t.co/d1H8fiTze3 pic.twitter.com/lMVH5zma1H
— Colorado Parent Advocacy Network (@CPANColorado) September 27, 2023
As of Wednesday afternoon, the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation did not respond to the Sentinel’s question about investigations into the threats. According to APD, the sheriff’s office is taking the lead with the investigation.
Smith said that parents should report “potentially dangerous behavior or anything that could put students at risk” to law enforcement, the district or through Safe2Tell at 1-877-542-7233.