FAIRAX (VA) — Two months after being pulled from library shelves for a formal review, a northern Virginia school system announced Tuesday that it would return two books. This was two months after the book’s removal. The decision was prompted by complaints about their sexual content.
Fairfax County Public Schools released a statement that two books, “Law Boy” and “Gender Queer”, were reviewed by a committee of parents, librarians, students, and administrators. They were found to be suitable for high school readers.
According to the news release, “Both reviews concluded the books were valuable in their ability to reach marginalized young people who may struggle to locate relatable literary characters that represent their personal journeys.”
The books should be kept available by all committees. A top administrator decided to restore them, according to the district.
Maia Kobabe illustrated “Gender Queer”, a memoir that includes explicit images of oral sex, masturbation, and more. Jonathan Evison’s novel “Lawn Boy,” contains graphic descriptions and images of sexual activity. These books have previously been honored with the Alex Awards of American Library Association. Each year, they are awarded “ten books written for young adults that appeal to young adults aged 12-18.”
After Stacy Langton (a Fairfax County parent) asked the Fairfax County School Board about the availability of the books in high school libraries, concerns over the books became clear in September. A school board member interrupted her as she was quoting explicit passages from one book and chastised for using explicit language.
The school system stated that it would pull the books to conduct a thorough review the day following the meeting.
In Virginia, parental choice in education was a key issue. Since then, controversy over “Gender Queer” has surfaced in several states where Republican governors are preparing to reelect themselves next year.