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Fauquier parent demands removal of ‘Two Boys Kissing’ book from high school library

Friday, Apr. 4 | By Mark Grandstaff | Google+
"Two Boys Kissing," by David Levithan
A parent's request to pull from high school libraries a book about the struggle of gay and transgender teens has triggered a public hearing on whether or not the book should remain available to Fauquier public high school students.

Fauquier County Public Schools has received a request from a parent to withdraw from student use the book “Two Boys Kissing” by David Levithan which is a part of the high schools’ library collections. A school committee at Fauquier High School decided to retain the book in its library collection, and the parent is appealing the decision to the superintendent.

The book's Amazon synopsis describes the story of "Two Boys Kissing," in which ". . .Harry and Craig, two 17-year-olds who are about to take part in a 32-hour marathon of kissing to set a new Guinness World Record—all of which is narrated by a Greek Chorus of the generation of gay men lost to AIDS. While the two increasingly dehydrated and sleep-deprived boys are locking lips, they become a focal point in the lives of other teen boys dealing with languishing long-term relationships, coming out, navigating gender identity, and falling deeper into the digital rabbit hole of gay hookup sites—all while the kissing (former) couple tries to figure out their own feelings for each other."

In accordance with Policy 6-5.7, the associate superintendent is forming a review committee. On Wednesday, April 23 in the conference room of the school board office, the committee will consider the complainant’s request. From 1:30-3 p.m. the committee will interview the complainant and possibly others related to the decision to withdraw or retain the book. From 3-4 p.m. the committee will hold a public hearing during which time interested citizens may speak to the review committee concerning the subject. The committee will discuss its findings and render a decision on the same date. All proceedings on April 23 are open to the public.

A copy of the “Request for Reconsideration of Learning Resources” may be obtained from the office of the associate superintendent, phone (540) 422-7006.

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This problem is a part of a systemic issue of misunderstanding leading to fear leading to violence via bullying in schools. LGBTQ students in those schools without a gay straight alliance often feel isolated and even set upon. There is no literature that teaches them their feelings are normal. The accomplishments of gay activists since Germany in the late 1800’s through Harvey Milk through Lawrence v Texas to the Supreme Court decisions last year in fighting for an end to that misunderstanding are not taught as a part of American history. Therefore these kids have no one/no where in their school to turn to that will ease their sense of alienation. The CDC last did a study of LGBTQ suicide in 2009. It read “Negative attitudes toward gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender people put LGBT youth at increased risk for experiences with violence, compared with other students [1]. Violence can include behaviors such as bullying, teasing, harassment, physical assault, and suicide-related behaviors.” A 2009 survey* of more than 7,000 LGBT middle and high school students aged 13–21 years found that in the past year, because of their sexual orientation— Eight of ten students had been verbally harassed at school; Four of ten had been physically harassed at school; Six of ten felt unsafe at school; and One of five had been the victim of a physical assault at school A book like this does not “promote homosexuality” as the far right would have us believe. Their goal is to instill a second “gay panic” in people through the idea that LGBTQ people have some sort of sinister agenda to convert the children of America. The fact is no such agenda has been put down on paper, is the mission statement of any LGBTQ group or school’s GSA or even exists outside of the very vivid imagination of people like Bryan Fischer. On the contrary, the ultimate goal of LGBTQ groups and their advocates is the end to bullying and outright violence towards LGTBQ kids. The suicide rate among those kids is three times the national average. When one considers that each episode of LGBT victimization, such as physical or verbal harassment or abuse, increases the likelihood of self-harming behavior by 2.5 times on average (*Trevor Project) the rate will only increase if schools refuse to acknowledge that they have an LGBTQ population that is under served in instruction, allies and in their libraries. You will never be able to convince socially conservative parents who have already been convinced by pastors, pundits and their political representatives that gay people are an abomination and thus a plague upon American society otherwise even using the most reasoned argument. The debate must instead be taken to a school board level. I hope such a debate can prevail in Virginia

By Gretchen on 2014 04 04

Sounds like a great read.  I raise my children to be empathetic towards others so I’ll suggest “Two Boys Kissing” to my kids who love to read. Thanks for bringing this book to my “Family Reads” shelf.

By Denyse on 2014 04 05

This topic is very close to home for me.  I participated in a very lively debate on Facebook about this book.  The level of hate and ignorance displayed by several people was awful.  I am the proud mother of twins aged 25.  One of my sons is gay and graduated from Liberty HS.  He had a rough time growing up because of his confusion and inability to understand why he felt different.  A book like this would have been so helpful.  He, and the rest of the family, suffered greatly.  I plan on attending this hearing to support this book and all students who have questions.  By the way, the most hateful person on Facebook was a man.  I could not get him to answer what he was afraid of.  He just spewed out nasty names for gays and preached about God’s judgement.  I can only hope that he will get educated and not be so divisive.

By Skykladme on 2014 04 06

All these people who are calling people who want the book banned bigots and saying, “if you don’t like it, don’t read it” are the same people who would flip out if a book titled, “Gay is Not the Right Way” were put on the school shelves. These are the same people who preach diversity but if someone says, “I do not believe in the gay lifestyle because I am a Christian”, they are automatically attacked because they are a “bigot”, “closed-minded”, or a “hater”. If you truly believe in the Coexist / Equally movement, then by calling one a “bigot” means that you are also a “bigot” because we all completely equal and are coexisting. Diversity means respecting an array of cultural beliefs. It does not mean agreeing with, or submitting to everyone’s cultural beliefs. As far as banning a book. I am against it regardless of the subject because I believe in freedom of speech, and ideas. But I just wanted to point out that its funny how Jesus is pretty much banned from public schools, and teaching about traditional family values is also out the window, and in its place we are teaching children skewed definitions of what “marriage”, “sex”, “diversity”, “family”, “religion”, etc… is. We are basically teaching the future generations to be so opened minded that they will have no grasp of what reality actually is because every opinion is truth. We are teaching children that it is bad to disagree with something and therefore it is bad to have an opinion. They will be a blob of collective flesh with one collective opinion rather than free thinking individuals with individual opinions. - A. Dohm

By PiOrionis on 2014 04 06

So let’s see… there is “The Perks of being a Wallflower”, along with “Brokeback Mountain”, “The Vampire Lestat”, “The picture of Dorian Grey”, “Brideshead Revisited”, “The Likeness”, The Kay Scarpetta novels (Patricia Cornwell’s series), “Prelude to Dune”, All of the Small Change series by Jo Walton, “Among Others” - (also by Jo Walton and a Hugo winner), “The Illusionist”, “1Q84” and “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” - and that’s just for starters.

Each of the above mentioned are acclaimed - and include gay characters (major and/or minor). Some could be identified as YA novels.

To start the process of book-banning, simply because the material makes you uncomfortable or contradicts your personal world-view is not simply a slippery slope. It is a mudslide that ultimately buries ideas under a mountain of ignorance.

By Rique on 2014 04 13

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