Virginia School District to Hold Public Hearing on Parent’s Request To Pull ‘Two Boys Kissing’ from Library

A parent's request to remove David Levithan's novel Two Boys Kissing from a high school library has prompted a public hearing in a Virginia school district, Fauquier.com reports:

Two-boys-kissingFauquier 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.

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.

Here's part of what our book critic Garth Greenwell said about the novel, which he called "ambitious, humane, [and] extraordinarily moving":

The wonder of Two Boys Kissing is that it seems entirely adequate to the world in which young gay people live today. It’s a world in which one boy can be embraced, even celebrated by his family, while his boyfriend is terrified of being found out by his parents. It’s a world in which young people can attend a gay prom and fall headily in love, and then find themselves confronting violence on their second date. And, most painfully, both for the reader and for the chorus of lost elders who speak to us, it’s a world in which gay young people still feel driven to commit violent acts against themselves.

But Levithan’s novel doesn’t just feel adequate to our present; it also—and, in my reading of LGBT literature for young people, uniquely—feels adequate to our past. Maybe Levithan’s most poignant theme is the relationship between young gay people and the generation that preceded them, a generation given voice to by the grieving, exulting, longing ghost chorus that speaks to us on every page.

Comments

  1. says

    the irony – the people against this novel are just like the bigoted parents of the kid in the story.

    or the parents who don’t want inclusive education about LGBT people and issues in schools. it won’t make their kids straight. and those who oppose such education? well, their kids are usually the bigoted bullies.

    why do they want it pulled from the library? they’re afraid it’ll “make their kids gay”? they’re afraid it’ll make their kids *not* hate gay people?

    sorry, folks. the world only spins forward. your children are going to have gay peers. your children many be gay. ask yourselves this: would you rather attend your child’s wedding or their funeral? those wanting this book pulled from the library run a very high risk of attending the latter.

  2. jed says

    how about hold a hearing instead on how much to charge this parent for the privelege of being able to privately curate the library collection to suit his/her personal taste.

  3. Steve Smith says

    How can a parent have this right? To ban a book is to limit free speech, and you can bet that this person will be the first to howl the words”Homofascism” and “religious liberty” when any decision goes against their personal beliefs. Keep access to ALL books in school libraries. I’ll bet they’ve got LOADS of Christian propaganda. And probably Ayn Rand too……..

  4. says

    thanks, Mike. alas, my @ss is in Canadialand, and has thus been relegated to speaking at these things locally. which i have done. it’s been neat.

    we had a big meeting at some schools last year – parents voicing “i dont’ want my children learning about gay people!”, and i stood up to speak as a now-grown product of the toronto public school system, and said “i grew up being bullied by the children of people like this couple” :)

  5. JonnyNYNY2FLFL says

    Book burning is never a good idea. No matter how extreme or distasteful some people find various written works, educated discourse cannot take place in the absence an idea being documented in the first place.

    That’s why we have a 1st Amendment.

  6. major707 says

    If the district has a process like this address various books then please someone complain about that violent book called the bible, then I am sure there are many more that glorify gun violence. If I was a tax payer in that community I would attend with a list of other books that should be considered if we are going down that road of censorship !

  7. john patrick says

    I read “Two Boys Kissing” several months ago, and it brought back so many memories of coming of age years ago; and memories of what so many of us went through when being gay was something that had to be hidden because of how bad things were, and so many of our friends and lovers were dying of AIDS. It is a beautiful book. It should never be banned because of the objections of those who prefer that we hide and disappear once again into closets. It is not this book that is objectionable. It is the behaviors of those who would deny us our loves and our lives that are objectionable.

  8. says

    I wonder if this mother has even READ the book! I suspect the title alone has inflamed her Christofacist indignation, and thus her push to take a perfectly fine book out of a HIGH SCHOOL library!

  9. JackFknTwist says

    I thought it was an inspiring poignant book, beautifully balancing the needs, expectations, and the worlds of the getting older generation, the survivors, and the modern world of kids who have such incredible technology at their disposal.
    Each generation has its own timbre.
    As the book says :
    “We had the best songs.
    We taught you how to dance.”

    As for book burning/banning, even the Vatican has abolished its Index !
    What kind of people are these nut-jobs ? Are they deluded trailer park yobs ?
    Do they have any education at all ?

    @JAY M.: I totally agree; the title has driven them nuts…..as for reading the whole book, ha ! when was the last time any of these religious stooges read any book ?
    books are Satan’s work !!!!

  10. Josh M. says

    District: “We already have a librarian trained to curate our collection and there is no vacancy at this time. If Jane Doe objects to her child checking out the book, let them return it and allow another child to make use of it.” Talk about contempt for academic freedom!

  11. codyj says

    Tell the parent(s) to STOP shoving their STUPID relig beliefs down the throats of the entire school…maybe they should work for ‘hobby lobby’..I’m sure they will be hired (at. 2.00 p/h.)

  12. David in Toronto says

    Censors are the most reliable critics of literature.They never ever ban anything unworthy of reading.

    I bought this not realizing that it was a young adult novel. Still, It’s a great piece of writing, and very touching. I’d encourage gay teens to leave copies in their school libraries.

  13. Bill says

    @Steve Smith: a parent, like anyone else, has a right to ask a school or library not to carry a book. The school district’s policy seems to be to handle such requests by holding a public hearing, at which point anyone sensible who shows up will get to say how silly it would be to ban this book.

    If you want to read an article mentioning a previous attempt at banning – in this case, a film – and how it turned out, check out
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2047661/Monty-Python-star-Terry-Jones-Life-Brian-today-political-correctness-religious-extremism.html

    The only time I suggested to a bookstore that a particular book not be carried was an instructional book about an athletic activity with some very bad advise in it – very bad in the sense that following it could lead to a fatality. That, of course, is simply customer feedback – I gave the book a bad review and explained why.

  14. Bill says

    What probably set one or two parents off was the book cover – an actual picture of two young guys kissing, one apparently with his shirt off.

    “Mommy” was possibly upset because “Daddy” looked at the cover and had an, err, “reaction” to it, convincing “Mommy” that it is all the work of the devil. So my guess is that it was “Mommy” who complained (the article said “parent” but you can’t tell if one or both were upset).

  15. mike says

    From School Library Journal

    Gr 7 Up–Narrated by an often heavy-handed Greek chorus of men who died of AIDS, this novel features the stories of one transgender and several gay teens. It focuses on Harry and Craig, friends and ex-boyfriends who have set out to beat the Guinness World Record for kissing. Harry’s parents accept that he is gay and are there as witnesses, while Craig’s parents find out that he’s gay after his mother is told about their record-breaking attempt. Other characters include Tariq, the victim of a hate crime; boyfriends Neil and Peter; and female-to-male (FTM) transgender teen Avery and his love interest, Ryan. Finally, there is isolated, angry, and disaffected Cooper. He spends his nights trolling sex sites online and runs away from home when confronted by his furious parents. Although Levithan has a tendency toward didacticism, his characters are likable, with some more developed than others. The story will engage readers, both female and male. The author’s note discusses the true events that inspired this story. Despite its flaws, this title is recommended based on subject need.–Nancy Silverrod, San Francisco Public Libraryα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC

  16. says

    I don’t live that far from Fauquier County (depending upon where the hearing is) so I might go. I read this book and was moved to tears by it. I wish books like this existed when I was struggling with my self-worth and sexuality. The school district isn’t forcing anyone to read the book–the parent is objecting to the book’s very EXISTENCE, and that is a dangerous road. Book banning, bills to allow people to discriminate because of religious beliefs–what year is it anyway? And what country are we in?

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