FAIRFAX, VA – A group representing more than 425 LGBTQIA students from more than 30 schools sent a letter Thursday to the Fairfax County School Board calling on its members to reject efforts by some parents to remove two books from school libraries.
The two books in question – âGender Queerâ by Maia Kobabe and âLawn Boyâ by Jonathan Evison – were criticized during the public comment section of the September 27 school board meeting. Speakers told school board members that the books describe pedophilia.
A former FCPS teacher, told the school board that Evison’s book contains a passage where “an adult male character graphically describes engaging in oral sex with a male minor”.
During his reporting on the story, Patch editor Mark Hand read the novel and discovered that it did not contain any depictions of adults having sex with minors.
Evison’s “Lawn Boy” includes passages where the novel’s protagonist remembers having oral sex with a 10-year-old boy when they were in fourth grade.
In “Gender Queer”, Kobabe tells the story of her childhood with an aversion to the female body. The graphic brief uses text and illustrations, including oral sex and masturbation, to tell the story of Kobabe’s journey from a confused girl to a non-binary, asexual teenage girl who today doesn’t identify with like a man or a woman.
Towards the end of the book, Kobabe writes about adopting neutral pronouns “e” for him / her, “em” for him / her and “eir” for him / her and the frustration when people don’t use the pronouns. choose. .
âLGBTQIA + representation in the literature is essential in fostering validation, acceptance and assertiveness in queer students,â the Pride Liberation Project said in its letter to the school board. “Research indicates that positive LGBTQIA + portrayal can enable young gay men to face discrimination and overcome the turmoil of adolescence and adulthood. Given the high rates of depression, harassment and Bullying faced by LGBQ youth in Fairfax County compared to our non-LGBQ peers, it is imperative that young adult novels portray positive LGBTQIA + portrayals. “
PLP criticized the lack of books available in school libraries featuring positive images of LGBTQIA +.
âIn addition, the representations that do exist are often stereotyped, contributing to a lack of knowledge about people with high gender sensitivity in society,â the letter said. “The removal of two award-winning books that dismantle LGBTQIA + stereotypes from FCPS libraries only contributes to the dearth of positive portrayals of queer people perpetuating an unwelcoming school environment for LGBTQIA + students.”
Stacy Langton, a Fairfax City resident who was one of the speakers at the county school board meeting, also spoke at the Fairfax City Council meeting on September 28.
After learning about the books, Langton and his child, who is a student at Fairfax High School, visited the library and viewed the two books.
In her comments to city council, Langton repeated her claims that she was only trying to keep pornographic material out of school libraries.
“It’s actually worse than I could imagine, what’s on the books,” she said, adding that they were offensive and had no place in any county school. Fairfax.
PLP acknowledged that “Gender Queer” and “Lawn Boy” contained descriptions of gender.
“Nonetheless, our high school libraries cannot isolate themselves from broader societal dialogues, including conversations about sex, without compromising the
ability to question, seek answers and formulate opinions on an essential component of
human life, âPLP said in its letter. âGender Queerâ and âLawn Boyâ offer much needed explanations for students who are unable to ask staff or family members out of fear for their safety. “
The PLP letter then lists a number of books in county school libraries describing heterosexual relationships and descriptions of physical intimacy.
“By keeping books that describe LGBTQIA + relationships on a different level than these novels, FCPS creates an inequitable, exclusive and heteronormative educational environment for queer students,” the letter said. “As students, we are tired of being scrutinized and targeted for queer students.”
In response to citizens’ comments, FCPS suspended circulation of the two books in high school libraries. Two committees made up of staff, students and parents headed by the school system’s library services coordinator will review “the suitability of the two texts for inclusion in secondary libraries,” a spokesperson said. of FCPS in Patch on September 27.
LGBTQ-Themed Books Removed From Fairfax County HS Libraries