The School Board of Loudoun County Public Schools in Loudoun County, Virginia, is reviewing challenges to several books added to classrooms by an initiative to diversify classroom libraries. All of the books under review tell LGBTQ stories or center LGBTQ characters. The challenged books range from titles to young children, like Prince and Knight and My Princess Boy, to young adult books in high schools, including Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out.
The Loudoun County schools implemented the diverse classroom libraries program earlier this year, adding titles relating to diverse race, culture, language, religion, ability and LGBTQ identities. Less than 5% of the new titles tell LGBTQ stories, yet those are the titles that have caused controversy. It appears that at least one title has been removed from classrooms, against district policy, before the official review is complete.
NCAC collaborated with celebrated author David Levithan on an op-ed for local Loudoun County newspaper, The Loudoun Times-Mirror, writing,
The current controversy over including LGBTQ+ stories in classroom libraries in Loudoun County schools comes down to an attempt by some parents to impose their personal viewpoints on the entire school district. The National Coalition Against Censorship, which advocates for kids’ right to read, calls this “viewpoint discrimination.” And the collateral damage of this discrimination is borne not by the parents but by the children. Because, in truth, this controversy is about more than free speech principles. It’s about empathy and making kids’ lives less painful, sometimes to the point of saving them.
NCAC is calling on Loudoun County Public Schools to remember its goals for the Diverse Classroom Library initiative: “To invest in celebrating its student population” by choosing books that “reflect and honor our student population and those around them.”
NCAC and David Levithan’s joint op-ed can be read in full here at the Loudoun Times-Mirror.
The ACLU of Virginia has also written to district officials.