Debate over controversial books dominates Fairfax Co. schools’ meeting again

A meeting held by the Fairfax County School Board Thursday turned into a debate and a protest over controversial books that were recently placed back into school libraries.

“I’m here to offer voice to the parents who are fighting to protect their children from exposure to pornographic material,” said one speaker, Lin-Dai Kendall.

It was the first meeting since the board announced last week that it would return two controversial books to high school libraries.

The board’s decision to return the books — “Lawn Boy” and “Gender Queer: A Memoir” — followed an extensive review into complaints that the books contained sexually explicit content and were inappropriate for high school students.

“Pornography in our schools is illicit,” Kendall said. “Protecting the innocence of our children is our duty.”

“A small minority of parents should not decide what books are in the library,” said Christina McCormick, another speaker at Thursday’s meeting.

Addressing school board members directly, McCormick told them to “please remember that your important work is done for our students and not the politics of any parent, including me.”

Another speaker, Jane Miscavage, said that “these books have the potential to reach marginalized students who may not otherwise see themselves in FCPS’s three million book collection.”

The books were reviewed by two committees comprising school administrators, librarians, parents and students. Their decisions to allow the books in libraries 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, referring to LGBTQ characters in the books.

She said neither book condoned or promoted pedophilia, despite complaints otherwise.

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

The books have led to a public debate in Virginia’s largest public school system that has been ongoing since September.

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Nick Iannelli

Nick Iannelli can be heard covering developing and breaking news stories on WTOP.

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