Controversial books return to high school libraries in Fairfax County
FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. (FOX 5 DC) - Two books sparking controversy in Fairfax County will soon be back on the shelves of high school libraries.
Both "Gender Queer: A Memoir" by Maia Kobabe and "Lawn Boy" by Jonathan Evison were temporarily pulled from FCPS libraries after complaints from parents who said the books contained graphic sexual content and pedophilia.
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The books were said to be appropriate for high school libraries after a two-month review process by two committees of school administrators, librarians, parents and students.
Stacy Langton, the Fairfax County parent who confronted the school board about the books in a September meeting, said she was angry and shocked to learn the books were reinstated.
"Although maybe I shouldn’t be because the school board has handled it bad from the beginning," she says.
In a release, Fairfax County Public Schools said:
"Both reviews concluded that the books were valuable in their potential to reach marginalized youth who may struggle to find relatable literary characters that reflect their personal journeys."
FCPS also determined there was no pedophilia in "Lawn Boy," and pedophilia is not described or depicted in "Gender Queer."
READ MORE: Spotsylvania County rescinds vote to remove sexually explicit books from school libraries
Langton told FOX 5 that based on what she has seen in the books, she disagrees.
"Unless FCPS is using a different dictionary than mine, I don’t know how the committee came to the conclusion that that’s not pedophilia," she says.
Aaryan Rawal, one of the students who led the fight to keep the books in schools, says he was excited to hear they’re now back.
"FCPS affirmed queer students and FCPS rejected these attacks to close the books on LGBTQIA+ students and instead sent the signal that we belong that our libraries can represent us," he says.
Rawal says it was tough for him and other LGBTQIA+ waiting on a decision about the books and they had to hold support group calls and reach out to mental health organizations.
READ MORE: Spotsylvania County pulling library books with 'sexually explicit content' from schools
"This stuff does have an impact," Rawal said. "It’s, unfortunately, a detrimental impact. It harms students when they see that there are community members that see their identities as pornography or as pedophilia."
Aaryan says he expects to get pushback from parents, but he will fight to make sure the books stay.
Langton says she feels she’s been unfairly criticized and wants to clarify she’s not against the students.
"I never said I want to remove all of the LGBTQ book collection. I’m not looking to do that there are probably plenty of books within that collection that are helpful and supportive to the gay students," Langton said. "But you don’t need to have those types of books and also have pornography in them and there is absolutely no excuse under the law at any time for pedophilia."
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Langton told FOX 5 she does plan to appeal FCPS’ decision. You can read more into how the committees reached a decision here.