Fairfax County Public Schools announced Tuesday it will return two sexually explicit books to its high school libraries after a review panel ruled the books have literary merit.
The books, “Lawn Boy” by Jonathan Evison and “Gender Queer: A Memoir” by Maia Kobabe, are fictional tales that have caused a furor in school districts across the country. The first contains graphic descriptions of sex between men and children, while the latter includes full-color illustrations of teenage boys performing oral sex on each other. The books were widely feted by the publishing industry.
After a two-month review, FCPS concluded the books should be on high school library shelves.
“The decision reaffirms FCPS’ ongoing commitment to provide diverse reading materials that reflect our student population, allowing every child an opportunity to see themselves reflected in literary characters,” the school system said Tuesday. “Both reviews concluded that the books were valuable in their potential to reach marginalized youth who may struggle to find relatable literary characters that reflect their personal journeys.”
An FCPS spokeswoman said the books would be put back on high school library shelves after Thanksgiving recess. It is unusual for a book to be pulled over complaints, she said, adding that she was not aware of any other titles that had been removed.
Outraged parents have read parts of “Lawn Boy” aloud at school board meetings. Fairfax County parent Stacy Langton objected to the book at a September board meeting, reading aloud parts of the book describing fourth-grade boys fondling each other’s genitalia and engaging in fellatio as “no big deal.”
The FCPS review of “Lawn Boy” concluded “there is no pedophilia in the book.”
Meanwhile in Texas, Keller Independent School District in the Dallas/Fort Worth area removed “Gender Queer” from library shelves last month after more than 1,500 parents signed a petition against the book.
In response to parental complaints the book included “pedophilia, incest anal sex and more,” Keller school board President Ruthie Keyes said parents should be “ashamed” for spreading pornographic material, and Ms. Keyes mocked another parent in a Facebook post by noting the parent was concerned about “one of about 589,000 books in the district.”
The FCPS review of “Gender Queer” concluded the book “neither depicts nor describes pedophilia.”
Nicole Neily, president of Parents Defending Education, said Tuesday’s decision and the sometimes dismissive attitude school officials display toward parental complaints is indicative of the contempt they hold for the broader community’s concerns.
“And they do this now right before a holiday, under the cover of darkness, so to speak,” said Ms. Neily, whose organization formed this year to combat what it regards as a left-wing takeover of the K-12 establishment. “This is the same pattern we see of our elected officials not really wanting the consent of the governed.”