Virginia parents who want 'obscene' books banned plan to file restraining order against Barnes & Noble
FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. - Virginia has been the center of book challenges over the past year and a new lawsuit could have major implications.
Parents in Fairfax County have been fighting for months to have what they claim are sexually explicit books banned from schools and local libraries.
Now, a judge in Virginia Beach has issued a ruling that could help their case.
Stacey Langton has been at the forefront of the fight in Fairfax County to remove books she says contain pedophilia and pornography.
A final appeal in January was her last effort within the school district to argue her point.
"My school board will not do the right thing, so it’s given me an opportunity I think to maybe come at it from a different angle and let the courts decide," the mother of six said.
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Langton is hoping a new lawsuit will help her.
A circuit court judge in Virginia Beach found probable cause that books like "Gender Queer" and "A Court of Mist and Fury" are obscene to unrestricted viewing by minors.
"Virginia law does have prohibitions against obscene material so that’s what’s going to be triggered here will be the enforcement of the law against obscene material and there’s even a criminal statute that the commonwealth attorney could pursue as well," said Mike Clancy, a lawyer who is representing Langton and running for Virginia’s10th Congressional District.
Those that filed that lawsuit say they will now seek a restraining order against Barnes and Noble to stop the sale of these books to minors without parental consent.
This marks the first time one of these actions has targeted a private business rather than a school.
One teacher FOX 5 spoke to says the legal maneuver is a slippery slope.
"That is just an absurd overreach of government to not only take it out of a library but take it out of a bookstore or not allow access without a parent signature … that’s absurd overreach," said Jessica Berg, a Virginia teacher who testified in a recent committee hearing against banning books.
The idea is getting mixed reviews.
"I don’t think it necessarily should be banned, but kids should have the option to read it if they want. Parents can have that open discussion with them," said Jeff Tauriello.
"Well I wouldn’t necessarily call it banning books," said Robert Tozier.
"I would call it maybe using discernment about what’s appropriate for certain ages of children," Tozier added.
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Langton, and Clancy, who is filing the lawsuit on her behalf, will announce their intent Friday and will file early next week in Fairfax County.
"This is about protecting children from this obscene material and ensuring that parents have oversight of what their children are reading in school," Clancy said.
"If the judge doesn’t see it that way, well then maybe I can appeal and take it to the Supreme Court and let them decide what is the nature of this book exactly," Langton added.
The authors and publishers named in the Virginia Beach lawsuit will have 21 days to respond to the court’s ruling.
If the court rules against them, it could set precedent for the rest of the Commonwealth.