SPOTSYLVANIA COUNTY, V.a. (FOX 5 DC) - A Northern Virginia school board has reversed a vote that would have removed sexually explicit books from school libraries.
The vote came during the early morning hours Tuesday after a fiery school board meeting in Spotsylvania County, Virginia Monday night. FOX 5’s Lindsay Watts says the Board was reminded that there is a process for challenging library books that may have inappropriate content.
The decision to reverse the vote followed a meeting where dozens of parents, students, staff and community members spoke angrily and passionately about the Board’s decision to remove the books.
Public comment went on for hours Monday night with 68 people signing up to speak.
"You have made local, state and national news and not for good reason," said one woman.
One man who said he was a librarian become choked up.
"I can’t believe I’m standing here tonight at a school board, I’m getting emotional, in America in 2021 and having to talk about books being banned," he said.
Others evoked Nazi book burnings. Multiple students shared their anger.
"I have a message from every single student to you school board: You have failed us!" a student told the board.
Another spoke about a book he said may have saved his life when he was feeling suicidal.
The Board’s decision last week was prompted solely by a mother and father who came before the Board to say they discovered two books they found inappropriate in their daughter's high school library.
The couple was angry about ‘Call Me By Your Name,’ which is about a 17-year-old boy who has an affair with a man, and ‘33 Snowfish,’ a story about homeless children, one of whom has been sexually abused.
The Board began a discussion that was not on the agenda and ultimately decided to remove all "sexually explicit" books from school libraries, without surgically defining what that meant and what kind of books could be pulled.
On Monday, many who spoke directed anger at board members Kirk Twigg and Rabih Abuismail who said books should be burned. Abuismail also claimed school librarians had failed.
Abuismail told FOX 5 by phone Wednesday that he misspoke about burning books. Twigg denied ever saying it, even though the meeting is on video.
The Board was expected to make a final decision about what’s next following public comment.
Board member Baron Braswell remarked that the school board attorney said what they did with regard to these books is unconstitutional and that he intends to put forward a motion to rescind last week’s vote.