Public schools refuse donations from small, faith-based publishers
After a Northern Virginia public school system banned books containing a Christian viewpoint on homosexuality from its library shelves, saying the texts might make “gays” feel inferior, students and parents are fighting back.
More than 40 Christian parents and students held a protest Thursday to speak out against Fairfax County public school librarians’ decision to refuse titles such as “Marriage on Trial: The Case Against Same-Sex Marriage and Parenting” and “Someone I Love Is Gay.”
Protesters wore black shirts saying, “Closing Books Shuts Out Ideas” after they unsuccessfully tried to donate more than 100 Christian books on homosexuality to several high school libraries, the Washington Post reported. Focus on the Family is the leading organization behind a “True Tolerance” effort to balance library shelves by adding a Christian perspective to the numerous pro-“gay” books currently stocked.
“We put ourselves out there … and got rejected,” student Elizabeth Bognanno told reporters. “Censoring books is not a good thing. … We believe our personal rights have been violated.”
The school system’s policy on library collections states “the collection should support the diverse interests, needs and viewpoints of the school community.”
However, it also states, “Librarians are under no obligation to include donations in the library collection.”
Coordinator of library information services Susan Thornily told the Post the books did not meet set standards. She said librarians told her the books contained large amounts of scripture, very little research or would make homosexuals “feel inferior.”
Thornily said librarians regularly refuse titles that “target minority groups.” According to the Post, this time they were concerned about the “level of scholarship” of small faith-based publishing companies.
“It all goes back to the books and the publishers and the presentation and the research,” she said.
Candi Cushman, education analyst for Focus on the Family, said the purpose of “True Tolerance” is to prevent censorship, not promote it. “We hear … more and more that homosexuality is being promoted in schools,” she told the Post. “The word tolerance is often used, but a faith-based viewpoint is belittled or ridiculed.”
Peter LaBarbera, president of Americans For Truth About Homosexuality, said his organization will also launch a Library Fairness Project to promote books challenging homosexuality. He said libraries currently have numerous pro-“gay” books that encourage same-sex marriage and relationships.
“That seems to be something that is going to be very difficult to change,” he said. “Instead let’s expand the selection to get both sides in the library.”
Thornily told the Post she would be willing to help librarians locate books that provide a religious perspective on “gay” lifestyles and meet county standards. West Springfield High School students prayed at the protest. Some indicated they had given new books to their libraries and were waiting to hear whether their donations would be accepted.