On April 23rd a hearing was held at Fauquier High School. It was to determine if FHS library should retain the book “Two Boys Kissing”. The book was written by David Levithan who has written several books about teenage homosexuality. He is also a supporter of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) lifestyles. My question: Is this an appropriate book for FHS library?
The hearing was required when a parent objected to having the book in the school library. This required Associate Superintendent Sandra Mitchell to appoint a committee of three community members and three FCPS employees to review the complaint and decide if, in their opinion, the book should be retained or removed.
The committee requested specific information for their consideration in reaching a decision: The committee wanted to hear the parent’s argument for removing the book and be able to question the parent. They wanted to hear from the FHS librarian and the FCPS Division librarian. They wanted to hear the opinion of an independent educator. They also wanted to hear from councilors who worked with adolescents. And finally they wanted to hear the written and oral comments from the public.
The objecting parent spoke first and said the book was not appropriate for all students and therefore should not be in FHS library. The book provided some teachable opportunities but the subject was inappropriate for all students. In addition the book showed intolerance to anyone who opposed gay lifestyles.
Next were the school librarians. According to FHS librarian they rely on book reviews, especially those from American Library Association. Potential readership was also a consideration. The Division librarian thought the book demonstrated Love, Faith, and Hope.
The private school educator talked about literary values but cautioned that parents should have the right to teach certain subjects to their children and to know what’s being presented in school. Also mentioned was the potential liability for schools and teachers when dealing with sexual matters.
The committee also requested opinions from councilors who worked with adolescents. According to Ms Mitchell she contacted two councilors but neither was able to attend. When asked for an opinion on how “Two Boys Kissing” would impact adolescents both councilors would not offer an opinion regarding the books influence unless they knew the student.
Public comments were received. Some wanted the book removed while others spoke in favor of keeping it. It was pretty evenly split. Finally the letters written for consideration by the committee were read out loud.
At the end of public comments the committee took a five minute break. On their return they each rendered their vote with an explanation. The vote was 6 to 0 for retention of “Two Boys Kissing” in the FHS library.
The committee may have ruled on the narrow question of keeping or removing the book but many questions are unanswered: Does the book and its subject matter meet community standards for use in our schools? How will the book impact students as a whole and individually? Should the school introduce books supporting or encouraging alternate lifestyles? The majority of high school students are juveniles, should they be exposed to R rated material? (If the book were a movie it would be rated R because of its content). The book contains obscene material. Should our school present obscene material to juveniles?
Other questions remain: How effective are book reviews in selecting appropriate books? The American Library Association is a very progressive/liberal organization. Its write up for the book can be expected to be liberal. Why didn’t they look at reviews from more conservative sources or Christian sources. Many of us do attend church here in Fauquier County. Reviews offer no assurance of quality just political leaning. The librarian also mentioned readability, how would Playboy measure up?
The committee asked for input from experienced councilors who worked with adolescents. None attended but some important information was forwarded by Ms Mitchell. According to both councilors she talked with the impact of such a book depends on the individual child. Considering the subject matter I would think the committee would have taken this into account.
The book portrays an outlook on life that most people would consider inappropriate. Here are a few examples from the book: On page 4 – “Freedom is also about what you will allow yourself to do.” In a book about seven gay boys is this appropriate? On page 65 (about using man-boy sex apps) – “All these men and boys trying out this new form of gratification.” On page142 – “It’s just past noon on a Sunday, but the sex sites are full of people, full of come-ons.” Near the end of the book on page 195 – “There will come a time when the gospel will be rewritten.”
This book is not about “love, faith and hope”. The book is about teenage male homosexuality. The committee spoke about the harmful behavior of some toward gays and incidents of bullying and abuse. THAT’S WRONG AND NEVER SHOULD BE ACCEPTED but the book is trying to indoctrinate young students into the gay lifestyle and that is WRONG too. It’s especially wrong at this time in student’s lives when they are still struggling with their sexuality.
Allowing “Two Boys Kissing” into FCPS libraries amounts to proselytizing for gay lifestyles. Our schools should not be giving special recognition to the gay community or other alternate lifestyles. This is not the job or responsibility of our schools. Social engineering has no place in our classrooms.
The book is not appropriate for use in our school libraries or our schools. This is not censorship it’s using age appropriate materials in educating our juvenile students. We must remember anyone under the age of eighteen is still considered a juvenile. Let’s not rush things.
What can you do? First get more information about the book and the author. Read the book if you can. Then, if you are as upset as I am, contact your elected school board representative and our FCPS Superintendent Dr. David Jeck. And finally get your friends and neighbors involved. Our students deserve a world class education not social engineering.
Public disclosure – Mr. Green is a member of Fauquier County Transportation Committee.