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Virginia school system returns books it took down after outcry


FAIRFAX, Va. (AP) – A northern Virginia school system said on Tuesday it was putting two books back on library shelves, two months after they were taken out for formal review over complaints that they contained obscene sexual material.

Committees including administrators, librarians, parents and students examined both “Lawn Boy” and “Gender Queer” and determined that both were appropriate for high school readers, County Public Schools said. Fairfax in a press release..

“Both reviews concluded that the books were valuable in their potential to reach marginalized youth who may struggle to find relevant literary characters who reflect their personal backgrounds,” according to the press release.

The committees unanimously recommended that the books remain available, and a high-level administrator made the final decision to reinstate them, the district said.

“Gender Queer,” an illustrated memoir by Maia Kobabe, contains explicit illustrations of oral sex and masturbation. Jonathan Evison’s novel “Lawn Boy” contains graphic descriptions of sexual activity. Both books have previously won the American Library Association’s Alex Awards, which annually recognize “ten books written for adults that have particular appeal to young adults aged 12 to 18.”

Concerns over books surfaced in September after Stacy Langton, a parent in the Fairfax County school system, questioned the school board at a public meeting about the availability of books in high school libraries. As she was quoting explicit passages from a book, a school board member interrupted her and berated her for using explicit language.

The day after the meeting, the school system said it would remove the books for a detailed review.

Parents’ choice of education was a major issue in the Virginia governor’s race, and the ‘Gender Queer’ controversy has since surfaced. in a handful of states where Republican governors are preparing for re-election next year.


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