The Spotsylvania County School Board voted six to zero, with one member absent, to remove “sexually explicit” material from school libraries. During public comment in the Monday school board meeting, parent Christina Burruss called attention to content on school library web app Destiny Discover.

“My daughter is a freshman at Riverbend High School and it was just brought to my attention of the books they have online there for the children to read. I went on there by accident and found that the first page that all of the books were listed was broken down into mostly LGBTQIA related fiction stories,” Burruss said.

“The second book that I looked into was called ‘Call Me by Your Name’. It’s the story of a 17-year-old boy having a sexual affair with a grown man, one of his parents’ house guests,” she said.

Burruss notified Principal Troy Wright, who was surprised by Burruss’ description of the recommendations in Destiny Discover, and had the page changed. He also shared her concerns about “Call Me by Your Name.”

“Within the next couple of days, Mr. Wright called me back and said they had looked into the book, they did find it inappropriate, and it was removed,” she said.

Burruss highlighted an additional book called “33 Snowfish.”

She asked the board, “These are books that you guys are putting in our schools for our children to read. I don’t understand– I can’t get a straight answer from anybody. Who chooses these books? Who’s putting these books in the library?”

In the heated meeting, staff asked for more time to investigate the materials across the district.

“I feel like so far, the vetting system has failed,” Board Member Rabih Abuismail said. “Seeing what’s happening in Loudoun County and all the surrounding counties, you should have taken the initiative to say, ‘Okay, let’s see what’s going on in the libraries of our schools. Let us not wait for a parent to come up here and tell us what’s going on in our library.'”

Board Member Kirk Twigg suggested that any removed books be kept in a separate area in the back.

“I don’t want to even see them. I think they should be thrown in a fire,” Abuismail replied. “If you want to have that, I’ll accept it for the sake of them being out of the schools and just kind of show the parents what their kids aren’t going to be learning about.”

The motion as passed by the board was to start removal of the sexually explicit books as soon as Tuesday, the day after the meeting, and it requires a report to the board about the removed books.

GOP Seventh District Congressional Candidates’ Responses

School-board-level education policy became a key issue the GOP used to reach moderates in Virginia’s recent elections, and it is expected to be a significant issue going in to the 2022 congressional midterms. Spotsylvania is currently in Virginia’s seventh congressional district, where Republicans are lining up to challenge Representative Abigail Spanberger (D-VA-07.)

In a statement, candidate John Castorani told The Virginia Star, “Last week the parents of Virginia spoke, and they spoke clearly. Our children will NOT be indoctrinated with Critical Race Theory or sexually explicit content in our schools. Parents have the power over their children’s education and can determine what books are, or are not, removed from their children’s libraries. The school boards are elected to serve the parents, so this action stems from addressing parental concerns appropriately. This is what the people want; this is what the people voted for, this is what the people should get.”

Candidate Derrick Anderson said, “Local school boards are elected by local parents, and therefore serve local parents. Just like we saw in Loudoun and Fairfax Counties, if parents are unhappy with their school board, they will organize and make their voices heard. And school boards will listen.”

Candidate Tina Ramirez said, “Protecting speech, especially speech we may disagree with, is a sacred duty of government. However, some material is simply not appropriate for children. Pornography is not protected speech. It is bizarre and discomforting that some on the left now pretend such speech is not only protected, but important for a child’s education”

She continued, “Sexually explicit materials should not be made readily available to children by Virginia Public Schools. School boards, in cooperation with parents, are right to review materials made available to students to ensure they are suitable for children. Any material found to be sexually explicit should be removed.

Ramirez said, “School boards and parents should be careful that, in reviewing these books, they exercise good judgement to ensure only those books which are genuinely inappropriate are removed.”

 

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Eric Burk is a reporter at The Virginia Star and The Star News Network.  Email tips to eburk@vastarnews.com.
Photo “Spotsylvania School Board” by Spotsylvania School Board.