North Hunterdon-Voorhees Regional High School District in New Jersey neglected to appoint any librarians to the committee reviewing a challenge to several award-winning LGBTQ-themed library books, including Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home, Jonathan Evison’s Lawn Boy, Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe, and This Book is Gay by Juno Dawson. NCAC, along with the Authors Guild, Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, National Council of Teachers of English, PEN America, PEN Children’s and Young Adult Book Committee and Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, are deeply concerned by this violation of the board’s own policy.
Board Regulation 9130 requires that each such committee must include a library staff member. Strict adherence to book review procedures is necessary to ensure that the public has confidence that, when library books are challenged, “the principles of intellectual freedom, the right to access of materials and the integrity of the certificated library/media personnel [are] defended rather than the materials.” (Board Regulation 2530).
This case involves exclusively books with LGBTQ+ themes, suggesting that the challenge is based on personal hostility to the content of the books, as opposed to their educational value.
New Jersey law requires every district to include instruction LGBTQ+ history, which is inconsistent with the removal of large numbers of LGBTQ themed books from school libraries.
NCAC is urging the District to pause the review committee’s work until a library staff member is appointed, and to clarify to all teachers, administrators and staff that administrative regulations must be followed when challenges are brought to learning materials.
Read the full letter to the school district below. Click here for a full screen view: