Parental backlash over questionable books added to school libraries for the current school year is having an effect in Loudoun County, Va.
Schools across the district were told they would be receiving new books as part of a diverse classroom libraries initiative. The grade-level titles had been approved by Loudoun County schools staff in partnership with professional collection specialists.
Many books in the “diverse classroom libraries” installed in elementary and high schools across the Northern Virginia district merely featured stories about young people of different cultures, races and religions.
Some of the books, however, like Heather Has Two Mommies for elementary students and Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out for high school students, charged directly into sexual practices with the aim of normalizing behavior many find distasteful, dangerous and immoral.
To some parents, the books amounted to “sexual propaganda.”
“I really have a problem with people teaching children that it’s possible to be born in the wrong body,” said one parent, Natassia Grover, to godanriver.com. “It is 100 percent a political agenda.”
Angry parents have spoken at school board meetings and circulated petitions demanding that the “sexually explicit” books be removed.
Ashley F. Ellis, assistant superintendent for instruction for the district, acknowledged that inappropriate lines had been crossed. Ellis said in a school board meeting last month: “Clearly we should have communicated earlier and with more specifics with principals, parents and the school board.”
Books that normalize homosexuality are increasingly becoming the targets of challenges and bans across the country. More than half of the top 11 most frequently challenged and banned books of 2018 included LGBTQ content, an increase from the previous year, according to a report from the American Library Association.
Some of these challenges have come from conservative religious groups. Drag Queen Story Hour events have drawn protesters to libraries. In Iowa, a religious activist was convicted of criminal mischief in August after he checked out four LGBTQ children’s books from a library and burned them.