Editor’s note: This letter was received late on April 22nd; the hearing was held the afternoon of April 23rd. It should be noted that the 6 members of the panel who decided that this book should remain on the shelves of the Fauquier High School library were selected by school officials. None of the people on the panel were representing the parent who brought the challenge.
The 6-0 decision of this panel to keep the book in the library means that children at least as young as 14 years of age can check it out and read it with or without parental consent or knowledge. (The writer of the letter below indicates this book may also be on the shelves of a Middle School library in this county, where children at least as young as 11 years old could access and read it without parental consent or knowledge. FFC is investigating this information.)
These panel members are relatively anonymous, and cannot be held accountable for their actions in any manner; therefore they were free to impose their collective will on the parents of Fauquier County students without regard to the consequences. In other words, they are unelected “officials” deciding the fate of citizens, something that should never occur in our nation of laws.
We believe this matter must be heard by our elected officials who have a responsibility to answer to the parents and taxpayers of this county. Taxpayers, particularly parents with children enrolled in FCPS, should hold them accountable for the decision of this panel.
The members of the Fauquier County School Board must be called upon to make their individual opinions on this book known to the public, and to rule on the suitability of this and other books like it as reading material in a school library, be they heterosexual or homosexual themed.
Fauquier Now has a poll HERE where you can weigh in on whether or not this book should be on the shelves of our school libraries.
In the reader’s letter we link to unedited quotes from the book.
We caution the reader to access these quotes at their own discretion, and FFC accepts no responsibility for offending the reader’s sensibilities.
Remember, this book is on the shelves of a public school library where children at least as young as 14 years old can access it and read it without parental consent or even parental knowledge.
Joseph Civitas, Editor
I formed a committee of one to see if the contested book really holds up under Fauquier County Public Schools POLICY 6-5.2 SCHOOL LIBRARIES/MEDIA CENTERS . After hundreds of notes and hours of work, I think I could write a book on the book. This is a long article, but I think it is necessary to inform “We the people” that Two Boys Kissing is much more than a love story from dead men to living boys.
Background: A Fauquier High School Parent has contested David Levithan’s book Two Boys Kissing. An FHS committee consisting of the librarian Becca Isaac, principal Tripp Burton, teacher Marie Miller and student Sierra Aceto convened and agreed that the book should stay. The parent has appealed the case. The hearing is April 23, 2014.
Fauquier High School’s student newspaper The Falconer quotes FHS committee member, librarian Becca Isaac: “I think we all agreed that the book was within the library materials policy, and it met all the criteria,” Isaac said. “If you decide to take a book off library shelves just because one person complains, it sets a precedent. We’re trying to prevent censorship. The Bill of Rights talks about our rights of self-expression—that’s why we have these policies.”
No one is trying to strip David Levithan of his rights to express himself, but FCPS students don’t have to listen to him. Parents, the FCPS school board, and FCPS administrators and teachers have a responsibility to protect our children from Levithan’s book that affirms and celebrates underage consensual sex and even walks the line of pedophilia.
FCPS Policy 6-5.2 states that libraries should challenge censorship, and they should cooperate with all persons and groups concerned with resisting abridgment of free expression and free access to ideas. The librarian, principal, teacher and student from FCPS stand hand-in-hand with the liberal American Library Association, so we the people of Fauquier must be a voice for our children. According to The Falconer, “Isaac initially decided the book was suitable for the library based upon positive book reviews that were published in reputable trade journals. She referred to a review from Kirkus that stated that the book was, ‘well-intentioned and inspiring, but it doesn’t push any boundaries.’”
“It doesn’t push any boundaries?” Here’s a boundary set by FCPS Policy 6-5.2. “Sex and Profanity – Materials with accents on sex shall be subjected to a stern test of literary merit and reality by the media specialist who shall take into consideration the community, the laws, and the accepted public moral standards. While libraries would not in any case include the sensational, overdramatic, or pornographic, the appearance of sexual incidents or profanity shall not automatically disqualify a book. Rather the decision shall be made on the basis of whether the book presents life in its true proportions, whether circumstances are realistically dealt with, and whether the book is of literary value. Factual material of an educational nature on the level of the reader shall be included in the literary collections.”
Let’s give it a try. If we were the committee, let’s start by “taking into consideration the community, the laws, and the accepted public moral standards.” Two Boys Kissing does not support the law of Virginia nor the moral values of Fauquier County. By affirming the marriage of two men, it undermines the Constitution of Virginia and the fact that 63% of Fauquier voters supported the Marriage Amendment. “Mr. Bellamy, our Tom, tells his husband all is well….”
Next, let’s consider the “appearance of sexual incidents or profanity” to see if they might outweigh any literary value the book may have for adolescents. Levithan has us over a barrel with this one because I need to print what I don’t want you or our students to read. For the most part, you can forget that the sexual relationships in the book are between boys. But, don’t forget that the book is written for middle school and high school students and that the central characters are high school students. The references are vulgar and graphic, so don’t click on the link if you don’t want to know what’s really in the book. Click on the EXCERPTS here if you want a better understanding of what our students are learning at school. Note that FCPS middle schools and high schools carry several of David Levithan’s books.
Now, let’s examine the book to see if it is “factual material on the level of the reader.” Ninth graders are likely to be 14 years old. If, as I have heard, this book is in a middle school library, kids who are 11 years old are reading it. Two Boys Kissing is a novel and not non-fiction factual material. It should not be validated as a reference book. The descriptions of sexual desires, contact and physiological responses in this book are not appropriate for adolescents.
“It doesn’t push any boundaries?” Let me count the ways.
1. It affirms and celebrates sex between minors.
2. It does not place personal responsibility on a minor who surfs sex sites and hooks up with an adult, hoping for sex and groping the adult’s crotch.
3. It intentionally places the pursuit of personal desires above societal norms.
4. It intentionally undermines parental authority.
5. It affirms, celebrates, and validates LGBTQ behaviors seeking to make them the new normal.
6. It denigrates the belief that men and women should only pursue heterosexual dating and marriage relationships.
7. It denigrates “churchy” people.
8. It affirms the hormone therapy and surgery for sex change that Avery’s parents began for him when he was pre-teen.
9. It validates the position that people who feel they are discriminated against have special privileges to hate their opposition, bully them, and call them vulgar names.
10. It affirms the action of men who leave their families to pursue their homosexual relationships.
11. It presents the underage and illegal use of cigarettes and marijuana as if that were a societal norm.
12. It affirms the emerging agenda of the LGBTQ community to abandon single sex (sex as determined by sex organs at birth) restrooms in favor of allowing people to go wherever they want.
13. It validates a student’s vulgar jokes.
14. It uses language that would be considered bullying by both those who support and oppose the LGBTQ lifestyle.
15. It uses vulgar language as if it were the societal norm.
There’s more, but enough is enough. If this information doesn’t convince a committee that censoring the book is the adult thing to do on behalf of our children, we will have time to prepare further evidence for the school board when the parent appeals.
As for the literary value of the book, David Levithan would read this review and be glad that he has gotten his message across. He sets out to change the dialog through his writing. No longer is the LGBTQ community marginalized. He has upset the apple cart; he has reframed the discussion. He is smart, and he writes beautifully.
We cannot let him distract us from his political/moral agenda through his eloquent words or seemingly compassionate and empathetic characters. “If it feels good, do it.” That would be his mantra until it comes to those who oppose and expose his corrupt agenda.
H. Reed, Warrenton