VA School District Removes 14 Books ID'd as 'Sexually Explicit' Under State Law
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Fourteen books will be removed from Spotsylvania County, Virginia Public School (SCPS) Library shelves this week after a local parent filed a complaint about their content.
The books, which were challenged as instructional materials, contain sexually explicit material as defined by Virginia state law, according to the district. The law, signed by Gov. Glenn Youngkin in 2022, requires parents to be notified if their students are assigned books or other materials with graphic sexual content.
The 14 books were identified in a memo from SCPS Superintendent Mark Taylor.
- All Boys Aren't Blue: A Memoir-Manifesto by George Johnson
- Like a Love Story by Abdi Nazemian
- Dime by E. R. Frank
- Sold by Patricia McCormick
- Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Perez
- Beloved by Toni Morrison
- America by E. R. Frank
- Looking for Alaska by John Green
- The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
- Water for Elephants by Sarah Gruen
- Neanderthal Opens the Door to the Universe by Preston Norton
- More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera
- The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
- Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult
"These books contain sexually explicit material which makes it clear there should be parental notification. State law sets the definition. The only way we can guarantee they're not available to students without parental permission is to remove them," Taylor said.
"New law took effect in 2022 concerning sexually explicit content in instructional materials used in public schools in the Commonwealth of Virginia. It is important for SCPS to recognize that state law supersedes our division policies and regulations," the superintendent continued.
Per SCPS policy, the books were reviewed by a committee of community members, staff, and the superintendent, the district said. They will be stored securely until arrangements can be made to donate them.
Taylor noted in his memo he was aware through the computerized library circulation systems, parental choice could be implemented to prevent individual students from checking out selected books, "but that alone would not fully comply with the law."
"I find that none of the 14 books listed above truly needs to be included in any SCPS school library," the superintendent explained. "So, having met with the complainant, it is my decision and direction on our further course of action as a division (pursuant to Procedure G.9. in Regulation IIA *- R) that all 14 of the books listed above are to be excluded from our SCPS school libraries."
Taylor also addressed those who might misinterpret or falsely characterize his decision as a "ban" on certain books.
"This decision is driven by my belief that our division should adhere to our Policy IIA and comply with Virginia law. Our mission is great, our challenges are many, and our resources are limited," he wrote.
"As School Board member Nicole Cole astutely observed at the board meeting this past January, our division has much bigger issues to deal with. As she put it: 'We need to handle the big rocks'," the superintendent added.
While the books will no longer be accessible to students at SCPS, they may still be assigned by teachers with parental notification, and they remain available at Central Rappahannock Regional Library.
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