In the past year schools have continuously made the headlines for controversial situations. It only seems to have escalated since the added difficulty of COVID-19 and the current state of the country.
The Spotsylvania County School board voted to remove ‘sexually explicit’ books from school libraries. On Sep 23 the board voted 6-0 to ban the books. Two members of the Spotsylvania school board even stated that they would like to see the removed books burned, according to the Free Lance-Star.
The definition of ‘sexually explict’ was never officaly defined. However, the books in question included themes such as LGTBQ+ representation, overcoming drug abuse, mental health representation, sexual assualt, and crude langauge.
This all began when a parent was using the school library app and came across several books with topics that she deemed inappropriate for her child. This was brought up at the next board meeting and it was revealed that several other parents felt the same way.
Some of the specific books that angered parents include ‘Call Me By Your Name,’ which is about a 17-year-old boy who has an affair with a man, and ‘33 Snowfish,’ a story about homeless children, one of whom has been sexually abused.
After the initial meeting each school library was “checked” and if they had any books or books with themes previously mentioned then those would have to be removed from the library. Several parents were happy about this however many students and their parents were not.
When interviewed by the Free Lance-Star, Board member Baron Braswell remarked that the school board attorney said what they did with regard to these books is unconstitutional and that he intends to put forward a motion to rescind the vote.
On Nov. 16 the school board voted to lift the ban on the books. This came after a school board meeting on Nov. 15 in which many parents and students voiced their concerns and opinions on why these books should not be banned.
The meeting went on for several hours and had 68 people signed up to voice their opinion. Students created a petition to reverse the decision; it had about 5,000 signatures the night of Nov. 15.
Some people questioned whether the leniency to ban books was increased by the results of the most recent campaign for governor.
A number of students spoke about books that were being thrown out that helped them understand their own identity and feel comfortable telling their community. Whether that be in regards to their sexuality or gender identity.
Others talked about how they were upset that books that helped them through hard times and mental health struggles were being deemed as unfit and inappropriate.
As reported by Fox 5, a student stated “some of the books on the list [of books to ban] may have saved me when I was feeling suicidal.”
Parents spoke about how they were concerned that the topics of books being thrown out would give their students the wrong idea of what they were allowed to talk about and what they weren’t.
They were worried that it would cause students who identified with some of the books to be negatively affected mentally. Specifically students who identify with the LGBTQ+ community who already felt ostracized.
According to FOX 5, a librarian from Spotsylvania said “I can’t believe I’m standing here tonight at a school board meeting, I’m getting emotional, in America in 2021, and having to talk about books being banned,” he said.
Another student gave a powerful statement according to The Free-lance star, “I have a message from every single student to you school board: You have failed us!”
After these testimonies were given it was put to vote on whether they would rescind the ban. School board members Rabih Abuismail and Kirk Twigg, who each previously spoke of burning the books, voted against rescinding the ban.
In the end, the ban was lifted after much pushback; and it gained national attention and sparked conversations in many schools across the country.