The Davis School District in Utah is returning a book about lesbian parents to library bookshelves after a committee concluded it "could help prevent bullying of kids from same sex families."
The American Civil Liberties Union had filed a lawsuit against the district after the book, Patricia Polacco's In Our Mothers' House, had been removed from general circulation in 2012 in response some parents' complaints.
In a letter, the district's assistant superintendent, Pamela Park, wrote, "The method for accommodating parental rights can be accomplished in a less restrictive way." Rather than requiring "affirmative parental permission" to allow students to check out the book, it will be returned to general circulation and parents wishing to prevent their children from checking out the book can notify the school librarian accordingly
"I'm glad the school understands they made a mistake when they took the book off the shelves," Tina Weber, the mother who filed the lawsuit, said in an ACLU statement. "A small group of people shouldn't be able to impose their personal values on everyone else by taking away access to books they might disagree with. It's not their job to decide what my kids can read – that's my job as a parent."
The ACLU noted in its release that although the agreement was reached in this district for this book, it hopes to reach an agreement with the school district to ensure that similar books are not restricted in the future.
An underlying issue in the case was Utah's sex-education law, which prohibits instructional materials containing "advocacy of homosexuality." The ACLU argued — and the school district this past week in its letter agreed — that library books not used as instructional materials are not covered by the law.
The ACLU went further, also arguing that "including books in the library depicting families with same-sex parents does not constitute endorsement or 'advocacy of homosexuality.'" Park did not address that second element in her letter announcing the return of the book to the general circulation shelves.
Davis School District Letter
Chris Geidner is the legal editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC. In 2014, Geidner won the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association award for journalist of the year.
Contact Chris Geidner at email@example.com.
Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.