2 controversial books returning to Fairfax Co. high school library shelves

Two books that were taken off the shelves of Fairfax County, Virginia, high school libraries in September will be available to students again on Monday.

“Gender Queer, A Memoir” by Maia Kobabe and “Lawn Boy” by Jonathan Everson were both the subject of complaints by parents concerned about the content of the books. But after a committee of school administrators, librarians, parents and students reviewed the books, they have decided the books should be reinstated.

Their decisions were then upheld by Noel Klimenko, Fairfax County Public Schools’ assistant superintendent of the instructional services department.

“Both books provide a narrative to students who may struggle to actually see themselves and their stories represented in other literature,” Klimenko told WTOP. “The committee found that it did not meet the definition of obscene, and that the entirety of the book did have merit.”

The decisions on both books were unanimous, she said, and despite complaints otherwise, neither book condoned or promoted pedophilia.

“There is no pedophilia,” said Klimenko. “I did read them myself and there is no pedophilia.”

The decision to remove the books led to a two-month long review, as well as protests from Fairfax County students, who argued those stories help foster “validation, acceptance and self-affirmation of queer students.”

While the two books were widely available, they weren’t carried in every high school in the county. Klimenko said there were 11 copies of one book, and six of the other circulating throughout the county.

She said they’ll be available for students to read when they return from Thanksgiving break.

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John Domen

John started working at WTOP in 2016 after having grown up in Maryland listening to the station as a child. While he got his on-air start at small stations in Pennsylvania and Delaware, he's spent most of his career in the D.C. area, having been heard on several local stations before coming to WTOP.

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