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Committee decides to keep ‘Two Boys Kissing’ on school library shelves

Wednesday, Apr. 23 | By Hannah Dellinger
LGBT community member, Joshua Moore hugs Mary Jo Sears, who was his librarian at FHS , after he spoke at the hearing about how she guided him to find literature that helped him find his identity.
Fauquier Times Staff Photo/Hannah Dellinger
“Two Boys Kissing” will stay in Fauquier High School’s library.

A review committee voted unanimously this afternoon to keep the contested book in the school’s library after a meeting with the parent who requested the book’s removal and an emotional public hearing.

A large crowd upwards of fifty people gathered in the Falcon Room at FHS. About 24 people gave their opinions on the matter and about six letters were read from those who couldn’t attend the meeting, including one from the author of the book, David Levithan. The comments made at the hearing showed an even split in opinion.

“This book is not about sex,” said committee member Rev. Joie Clee Weiher when she gave her decision to retain the book. “Heated scenes of kissing are merely a hook, a draw for young people to read a book about relationships, respect and the deeper concerns of the human situation.”

FHS parent Jessica Wilson made an official complaint to remove the book from the school library on Feb. 7, because she believed that the cover of the book condoned public displays of affection, which are against school policy.

After Wilson contested the book to FHS Principal Clarence Burton III, a school committee voted to keep the book on the shelves, and Wilson appealed the decision to Supt. Dr. David Jeck. The superintendent assembled the review committee to consider the matter.

The committee included Judy Olson, a parent of an FHS student, Lauren Milburn, an administrator at Liberty High School, Emmett Bales, a teacher at FHS, Kim Ritter, a librarian at Kettle Run High School, Weiher and chaired by Fauquier County Public Library Director Marie Del Rosso.

Marie Miller, a teacher at FHS and the advisor for the school publication The Falconer said that she believes that those opposing the book were doing so not because of it’s lack of appropriateness for the students, but because it is a story about gay teens.

“If the focus of this book was on heterosexual teen relationships, it would not be the subject of a book challenge,” said Miller.

John Green, a member of the Fauquier County Transportation Committee, said that he doesn’t think that the material in the book is suitable for children under 18.

“Most High School students are under the age of 18,” said Green. “According to the Virginia Code, they are juveniles. The Virginia Code also defines obscene as material that as a whole appeals to an apparent interest in sex and excites lust. This book, I believe, meets that definition and is being made available to juveniles, which I believe to be inappropriate.”

Joshua Moore, a recent graduate from Fauquier’s public schools who identified himself as a member of the LGBT community, said that books similar to “Two Boys Kissing” helped him when he was having difficulty finding his identity.

“I remember how it felt for me to come to terms with myself,” said Moore. “I remember one day I went to the library and I started reading. ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’ and ‘Hero.’ They were very poignant to me. My librarians helped me to broaden my horizons. I didn’t have to sit around and think that I was so alone in this school.”

JoEllen Murphy, a community member and parent, said that if the book were a movie, it wouldn’t be made available to minors.

“The ‘F-word’ is used 10 times,” said Murphy. “If this were a movie, it would be ‘R-rated.’ According to movie guidelines, ‘R-rated’ movies require a parent or guardian to be present during the viewing of the film. So if this were a DVD, and that library were a video store, the children would not be able to check it out.”

Wilson was present at the meeting, but did not choose to speak publicly. She commented that she was happy with the hearing’s attendance.

“I think that it’s good that everyone came out,” she said. “I think that it’s an issue that we should have talked about before the book was purchased.”

If Wilson choses, she may appeal this decision to the school board.

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