Virginia Beach Schools Assess Concerns Over 6 Books ::

–Virginia Beach City public school administrators are expected to announce later this month whether six books that have been the focus of intense debate at school board meetings will remain in the system’s curriculum and libraries.

School board member Victoria Manning called for the books to be reviewed when she contacted the superintendent with concerns about sexual content and the education equity policy, WAVY-TV reported.

Manning flagged four books for graphic passages, some of which the school board would not allow to be read aloud in a meeting.

“The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison and “A Lesson Before Dying” by Ernest J. Gaines focus on race and racism. Maia Kobabe’s “Gender Queer” and Jonathan Evison’s “Lawn Boy” feature people struggling with gender identity and sexuality.

But student Ure Emejuru pointed out that there are many other books with graphic content that Manning did not ask to be taken down.

“’1984′ or Shakespeare or parts of the Bible have examples of sexual acts,” Emejuru said. “I think the fact that these are mostly LGBTQ + books and POC authored books is very deliberate.”

Manning told the station that two other books – “Good Trouble: Lessons from the Civil Rights Playbook” by Christopher Noxon and “Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out” by Christopher Noxon and Susan Kuklin – could violate the fairness protocol of the board of directors. It states that educational material “should be examined for bias”.

School system spokeswoman Natalie Allen said these books are on library shelves, not in the program. She also said that the WAVY investigation was the first time the administration heard that concerns about the two texts were related to politics.

Committees of six or seven people – including a parent, student, library media specialist and administrators – review each book, according to academic director Dr. Kipp Rogers.

Rogers said he could only remember three other times in his 11 years in school administration when “it happened at the central office where we have to do a formal exam.” Program issues are usually resolved in conversations between a parent and manager, he said, and a book has never been taken from the system.

Rogers said he hopes the current exams are an educational opportunity for parents, students and the community.

About Stuart M. McFarland

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