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Virginia school system returns LGBTQ + books to high school libraries


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FAIRFAX COUNTY, Virginia – Fairfax County Public Schools announced on Tuesday that following a detailed review by two committees appointed by school officials, they had returned two LGBTQ-themed books to its libraries schools that had been temporarily withdrawn after being challenged by critics who claimed they included sexually explicit content inappropriate for students.

The two books, “Lawn Boy,” a novel by author Jonathan Evison, and “Gender Queer: A Memoir,” which is described as an illustrated autobiography by non-binary author Maia Kobabe, each contain descriptions of acts sexual.

But supporters of the books have argued that they have been praised by literary critics, and while portraying intimate relationships, they tell stories that do not fall into the category of pornography.

The school system said in a statement Tuesday that an extensive review of the books by two committees made up of educators, school officials, parents and some students found that none of the books contained content that could be seen as describing pedophilia as some parents claim and others oppose both books.

School officials said they had temporarily removed the two books from school libraries following a September 23 meeting of the Fairfax County School Board where strong objections to the two books were raised by parents .

“Two books that were formally challenged were deemed appropriate for high school readers after a two-month review process and will be reinstated in Fairfax County Public School Libraries (FCPS),” indicates Tuesday’s statement from the school system.

“The decision reaffirms FCPS’s continued commitment to providing diverse reading material that reflects our student body, allowing every child to see themselves reflected in literary characters,” the statement continued. “Both critics 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 journey,” the statement said.

The statement said the final decision to restore the books was made by Noel Klimenko, deputy superintendent of Fairfax County Public Schools for his Department of Educational Services.

Both books have received favorable reviews in various literary publications. Both received the American Library Association’s Alex Award, an annual award that recognizes 10 books of the year written for adults that the association says are of particular interest to young adults between the ages of 12 and 18.

“The robust committee process took place over several weeks and examined whether the books flouted regulations by being obscene or harmful to minors as defined by the Virginia Code,” the school system said. “Members also viewed the work in accordance with an excerpt from FCPS’s Student Rights and Responsibilities manual regarding possession of obscene visual images as defined in the Virginia Code,” the statement said.

“After careful examination, neither book was found to be in violation of these regulations,” he concludes.

The decision by Fairfax School officials to reinstate the two books came about six weeks after more than 425 LGBTQ students and allies from more than 30 Fairfax County public high schools sent a letter to the school board and superintendent. of the school system urging them to restore both books. .

The Pride Liberation Project, a coalition of LGBTQ students and allies from Fairfax County, organized the joint letter.

“Student representatives from over 30 schools, including nearly all of the Fairfax County Public School High Schools, have signed this letter, and many of us are low-income, expansive-gendered students of color. and not outside our families and communities, ”the letter says.

“We are writing to ask you to reject calls to remove Maia Kobabe’s ‘Gender Queer’ and Jonathan Evison’s ‘Lawn Boy’ from Fairfax County Public School Libraries,” the letter reads.

He points out that “hundreds of books in our schools already describe heterosexual relationships and physical intimacy,” and says that distinguishing LGBTQ-themed books with similar stories of intimacy for rejection is unfair.

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