A total of 426 LGBTQ students and allies from more than 30 Fairfax County public high schools sent a letter Thursday to the county school board and the director of the school system urging them to reject requests to remove two LGBTQ-themed books school libraries.
The two books, “Lawn Boy,” a novel by author Jonathan Evison, and “Gender Queer: A Memoir,” an illustrated autobiography by non-binary author Maia Kobabe, each contain graphic descriptions of sexual acts, including including sexual acts between consenting minors. .
Following strong parents’ objections to books at a September 23 meeting of the Fairfax County School Board, Fairfax County public school officials announced that they had removed books from school libraries to reassess their suitability for use. high school students.
The books have received favorable reviews in various literary publications, and both have received the American Library Association’s Alex Prize, an annual award that recognizes 10 books of the year written for adults which the association says are of particular interest to young adults aged 12 to 18.
“We are a group of over 425 queer students and allies from Fairfax County Public Schools who are part of the Pride Liberation Project, a coalition of students working to uplift the queer community,” read the student’s letter.
“Student representatives from over 30 schools, including nearly all of the Fairfax County Public School High Schools, have signed this letter, and many of us are low-income, expansive-gendered students of color. and not to our families and communities, ”the letter says.
“We are writing to ask you to reject calls to remove Maia Kobabe’s ‘Gender Queer’ and Jonathan Evison’s ‘Lawn Boy’ from Fairfax County Public School Libraries,” he said.
Each of the 426 students who joined the letter signed with their initials rather than their full names while also writing the name of the school they attend.
Aaryan Rawal, co-founder of the Pride Liberation Project, which initiated the letter to the students, told the Washington Blade that the group decided to allow students to sign with their initials because many LGBTQ students fear possible negative repercussions. if they go out to school publicly. or their parents.
“We have students who are even afraid to sign these names with their initials because they worry about what will happen if their teacher finds out who is not supporting them or what happens if a classmate finds out. who does not support them, “Rawal said.
“What will happen if my parents find out if they are not supporting them?” Rawal said, expressing the concern of the students he spoke to. “We have students who have experienced homelessness because they were revealed to their parents,” he said. “And so, it really is a real threat. We are not exaggerating that at all.
The student’s letter states that “hundreds of books in our schools already describe heterosexual relationships and physical intimacy.” He names several, including “Rules of Attraction” by Simone Elkeles, “It” by Stephen King, “Ready or Not” by Meg Cabot and “Looking for Alaska” by John Green.
“By keeping books that describe LGBTQIA + relations on a different level than these novels, Fairfax County Public Schools are creating an inequitable, exclusive and heteronormative educational environment for queer students,” the letter reads.
“As students, we are tired of being scrutinized and targeted for who we are,” the letter says. “We just want to be treated equally in our schools, including our libraries. Please reject attacks on LGBTQIA + literature and allow “Gender Queer” and “Lawn Boy” to stay in our schools, ”the letter concludes.
Julie Moult, spokesperson for Fairfax County Public Schools, told the Blade in an October 8 email that the process for review of the two books by school officials, including two committees appointed by the superintendent. Scott Brabrand, would take up to 45 days from when he started shortly after the September 23 school board meeting.
Moult said it would be inappropriate for the superintendent to comment on the student’s letter until the outcome of the review process is known.
“The committees’ recommendation will be presented to the Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services who will make a final decision on whether Fairfax County Public Schools continue to provide access to these books in our high school libraries,” said the school officials in a statement. released last month.
Rawal said the students who helped draft the letter they sent to the school board and the superintendent strongly dispute the claims of several parents who described the two books in question as a form of pornography that is unsuitable for students. secondary school.
“I mean that’s just not right,” Rawal said. “We’ve read both books from cover to cover, and I don’t see how there is a debate here. Mentioning sex doesn’t do anything porn, ”he said. “These books certainly refer to sex, but to relegate the content of these books solely to sex is a gross misrepresentation of what they are really about.”