Utah school restricts access to book about lesbian couple

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The Davis County school district has restricted access to a book called “In Our Mother’s House”, which depicts a family with lesbian parents.

In January, a kindergartner at Windridge Elementary School checked out the book. But when he brought it home to his mother she contacted the school, upset that her child had been able to check out the book without having to get a parent’s permission first.

A school committee decided to move the book to an older age range and make it only available to children in grades 3-6, rather than the recommended kindergarten through 2nd grade. That did not satisfy the parents of the kindergarten student, however. A petition signed by 25 parents at the school moved the decision to a district committee. In April, that committee voted to remove the book from libraries and put it behind the librarian’s desk. In order to check out the book, children must now ask for the book and bring in a permission slip signed by their parents.

The district committee was made up of 7 teachers. They voted 6-1 to pull the book from shelves. The dissenting vote came from Bountiful High librarian Trudena Fager. “I thought it was a win-win situation to put the book in a place available to any parent when they need it and not just some random check-out with a kindergartener,” said parent Rebecca Taylor, who signed the petition.

Patricia Polacco, the author of “In Our Mother’s House” along with 50 other bestselling children’s books, told Fox 13 News, “I would like [the parents] to consider…what if they are raising a gay child and the child doesn’t know they’re gay and all they’ve heard is derision and criticism for that way of life.” She was inspired to write the book by a little girl who, when reading an essay about her life with gay parents, was told by the teacher to sit down because she didn’t “come from a real family.” The book has been banned at other schools in the United States.

In an interview with the Salt Lake Tribune, DaNae Leu, a media specialist at Snow Horse Elementary School in Kaysville, says that librarians are being asked to list any books containing homosexual characters, or any other books that parents might find objectionable. “I’ve never seen this happen. It’s almost like they want to preemptively pull books that might disturb somebody,” she said. “I feel like Joe McCarthy is asking me to name names.” She says librarians don’t feel safe objecting to the decision, and are concerned that this move sets a precedent for parents having too much control over what is allowed in school libraries.

“I don’t want to disparage my district. I think they were trying to protect themselves against state law,” said Leu. “Ethically, I don’t feel right about it. I feel like the book is age-appropriate. I know it’s available upon asking, but it’s also available under a stigma.”

A spokesman for the Davis County School District, Chris Williams, defended the decision. “They had to remember that the state legislature has said that in health classes we can’t talk about alternative lifestyles, we can’t talk about things like contraceptives. State law says schools can’t have anything in the curriculum that advocates homosexuality. That is why it is now behind the counter.” Williams said that the book was originally purchased because there was a student at Windridge Elementary that had gay parents. He also said he has not received any complaints about the book being restricted.

Other source: Salt Lake Tribune