Virginia School Committee Votes Unanimously To Keep ‘Two Boys Kissing’ On Shelves

After a public hearing following a parent’s request to remove David Levithan’s Two Boys Kissing from the Fauquier High School library in Virginia, a review committee voted unanimously to keep the book on school shelves.

Two_boysFauquier.com has more:

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…

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…

Marie Miller, a teacher at FHS and the advisor for the school publication The Falconer said… “If the focus of this book was on heterosexual teen relationships, it would not be the subject of a book challenge…

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.

While other parents said that the book’s repeated use of “the f-word” would make it an R-rated movie inaccessible to most high school age teens, a  LGBT-identified graduate from Fauquier’s public schools attested that books like Two Boys Kissing and The Perks of Being a Wallflower helped him feel less alone and more comfortable with his identity.

Levithan’s book (which we reviewed) was nominated for a 2013 The National Book Awards in Young People's Lit. The parent who lodged the initial complaint may still appeal the committee’s decision to the school board if she so chooses.

Comments

  1. JackFknTwist says

    What a laughing stock of Neanderthal objectors.
    This gang are the Creationists, deniers of science and Rapture enthusiasts.
    (How’s that Rapture thing working out for you ?)

    David Levithan’s book is a beautifully toned tender piece of writing, and in my opinion his best.

    To have the book subjected to a vote of whether it should be in a school library is so dumb as to raise questions of the whole structure of censorship by opinion.
    The vote was unanimous in favour of the book; what the hell does that mean ?
    “we will allow you place the book in the Library”. Thanks for granting that measure of freedom, we are so grateful.
    Has that objector/parent been examined by a psychiatrist to determine her fitness to plead…..anything other than her knee jerk bigotry ?

  2. john patrick says

    I’m glad this book will remain in the library. I would have been delighted to have had this book to read when I was in high school. And having lived through the darkest days of the AIDS epidemic, when so many friends died, this book brought back some bittersweet memories of friends I had lost.

  3. RonCharles says

    Fauquier County, Virginia, is a lovely, scenic county in Virginia with very nice people. I am not at all surprised that good, old-fashioned common sense prevailed in this decision. Kudos to Fauquier!

  4. Bernie says

    so, my money is on that the parent/parents that made the initial complaint are Christian/right wingers who are crying religious freedom and banning books is a free speech issue

  5. gregorybrown says

    The decision to keep the book is a reasonable one. This incident shows how necessary it is for libraries–all kinds of them, public, school an academic–to have a coherent and transparent policy on selection and provisions for reviews of complaints.
    I think it shows a bit of cunning on the part of the parent demanding expulsion of the book that she focused on a rule against PDA. That’s a nice bit of stealth to avoid sounding like a bigot, whatever her personal opinions are.

  6. alex says

    “To have the book subjected to a vote of whether it should be in a school library is so dumb as to raise questions of the whole structure of censorship by opinion.”

    There’s nothing dumb about it. There are plenty of books that shouldn’t be in a school library. Someone has to decide which books are appropriate. If there is a dispute, there should be a system in place to evaluate the claim. Everything worked perfectly here.

    Would you call the system “dumb” if the book in question included a character who was “cured” of his homosexuality? A plurality of opinions is a good thing.

  7. northalabama says

    as much as i’m in favor of friendly gay literature on the shelves of school libraries, are we sure this is the right book?

    unless there’s precedent involving a heterosexual counterpart with a young couple kissing on the cover, and profanity (both against policy), maybe alternatives could be suggested.

    i don’t see this as a gay issue, i see it as valid concerns over controlled content. like it or not, schools set the standards for all minor children, gay or straight.

  8. alex says

    @NorthAlabama: I’ve not read this book. I’m also unfamiliar with the policy to which you refer.

    That said, this book was part of the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature. Clearly, whoever is responisble for that award thinks this book is appropriate. That’s good enough for me.

  9. Paul R says

    Not to mention that, Yes, there are scores of book for young adults featuring hetero couples kissing on the cover. The language thing is a joke. PG-13 movies must follow the utterly arbitrary and inane rule the f*** can only be said once, but I doubt there are many teens who haven’t seen a R movie even before high school, much less by the time they graduate.

    More to the point, they must hear it dozens of times a day from their peers, siblings, music, and myriad other sources. Been that way quite a while!

  10. mark says

    BS statement. Shes promotes/condones lying….. she believed that the cover of the book condoned public displays of affection, which are against school policy… and if you believe thats the real reason….please

  11. says

    @NorthAlabama: Yes, we are sure. You may not see this as a “gay issue,” but the objectors certainly do, even if they try to disguise those objections with “school policy” excuses. History tells us that a book with similar heterosexual content would meet no similar resistance.

    This is a well-regarded book written for young people. High school students aren’t infants. They’ve seen PDA’s before (mostly het ones, of course), they’ve heard the f-word. The committee made the right decision; they set the standards, one parent shouldn’t. And, the offended parent can’t shield her offspring from reality forever. Gay teens exist and need to see their lives reflected in literature.

Leave A Reply