Politics

Virginia school board members call for public book burning of gay books

books burning
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The Spotsylvania County, Virginia School Board has called for the removal of books with “sexually explicit” content from school libraries with two board members even suggesting the banned books be burned, after a mother found LGBTQ content in the district’s library app.

“I think we should throw those books in a fire,” said board member Rabih Abuismail at Monday’s meeting, according to The Free Lance-Star.

Related: Board member who berated gay teacher about “sexual relations” resigns in shame

Board member Kirk Twigg added that he wants to “see the books before we burn them, so we can identify within our community that we are eradicating this bad stuff.”

“There are some bad, evil-related material that we have to be careful of and look at,” he said.

That “bad stuff” appears to include LGBTQ content, as the entire call to ban these books stemmed from a mother’s horror at discovering how easy it was for her teenage child to access LGBTQ books through Riverbend High School’s library app.

The mother, Christina Burris, voiced these concerns with the school board on Monday, NBC Washington reported, and said as she dug even deeper into the library app, she discovered a book that horrified her even more: the young adult novel, 33 Snowfish by Adam Rapp, the story of homeless teens who endure sexual abuse, drug addiction, and sex work. The book also includes LGBTQ storylines.

In 2004, 33 Snowfish was named a top 10 book for young adults by the Young Adult Library Services Association. It is recommended for readers ages 15 and up.

Rapp’s book, Abuismail said, is evidence that schools “would rather have our kids reading gay pornography than about Christ.”

Burris’s complaints spurred the board to vote 6-0 to ask school staff to remove “sexually explicit” books from their libraries and then gather for a special meeting to report on what they have removed.

It is not entirely clear how “sexually explicit” is defined, though the board reportedly plans to ultimately create more specific guidance on “objectionable” material.

The school has reportedly asked for more time to review its own process for vetting books, but Abuismail said the books shouldn’t be on the shelves for even one more day.

Calls to ban books with LGBTQ content, as well as content about race and gender, are taking place across the country.

In October, Texas State Rep. Matt Krause (R) demanded schools identify any books they have that cover topics related to sexuality, HIV/AIDS, and STIs, as well as any book that might make students feel “discomfort” or “psychological distress” by “consciously or unconsciously” implying that their race is “inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive,” using language from white parents this past year who protested school districts to stop teaching about racism.

In Tennessee, state Rep. Bruce Giffey  introduced a bill that would ban public schools from using books that mention LGBTQ people.

Virginia, however, has been at the center of the debate over book banning, as the state’s anti-LGBTQ governor-elect Glenn Youngkin (R) ran on a platform of supporting “parents’ rights” in education.

Youngkin supports banning certain content from being taught in schools. His victory was considered a win for those who support moves like that made by the Spotsylvania County school board.

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