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Utah school district faces lawsuit after removing book about lesbian mothers

By Eric W. Dolan
Tuesday, November 13, 2012 16:59 EDT
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Book censorship via Shutterstock
 
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A school district in Utah now faces a lawsuit after it instructed elementary schools to remove a children’s book about three adopted children and their two mothers from library shelves.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Utah filed the lawsuit against the Davis School District on Tuesday on behalf of a mother whose children attend one of the schools. The lawsuit alleges that removing Our Mothers’ House by Patricia Polacco “placed a discriminatory burden on students’ ability to access fully protected speech.”

“I was shocked when I heard that a handful of parents had made a decision about whether everyone else’s kids could have access to this book,” said Tina Weber, the mother who filed the challenge. “Our job as parents is to make sure we teach our children about our values. We can do that without imposing our personal views on the rest of the school community.”

The school district ordered elementary school librarians to remove the book from library shelves after receiving complaints from parents. The school said displaying the book violated Utah law, which prohibits instructional materials containing “advocacy of homosexuality.” The book is now only available to students with written permission from a parent.

In the lawsuit, the ACLU argued that restricting the book placed an “unconstitutional viewpoint-based stigma” on young student who might want to read it.

“It sends the message to the school community that students who read In our Mothers’ House are reading a ‘bad’ book and that the ideas contained in the book are unacceptable and should not be discussed. The District’s public statements that the book was removed because it has ‘homosexual themes’ or constitutes ‘advocacy of homosexuality’ reinforces that stigmatizing message,” the lawsuit states.

Some parents complained that the book was not age-appropriate and should not be freely available to the young students. They described the book as propaganda because it “glamorizes and normalizes” lesbian couples and made “life inside a homosexual home” appear “great, wonderful and with no problems.” The parents also complained that the book made those who opposed households with two mothers seem fearful and mean.

The parents’ complains ranged in tone, with some merely suggesting parents should be involved in discussions about sexuality and others attacking LGBT couples outright.

“I actually thought the book was well done, but I want to be in control of when we talk about homosexuality, and not just when they accidentally bring it home from the school,” one parent wrote. “I want to be sure they are ready to handle the topic.”

“I object to a homosexual lifestyle but even more to allowing couples who decide to live together a homosexual life [sic] to adopt children,” another parent told the school district. “Homosexuality is a very sensitive topic, one that brings much heartache and sadness, unfortunately. This book does not explain more of the psychological and emotional hurt that these people go through.”

[Book censorship via Shutterstock]

Eric W. Dolan
Eric W. Dolan
Eric W. Dolan has served as an editor for Raw Story since August 2010, and is based out of Sacramento, California. He grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and received a Bachelor of Science from Bradley University. Eric is also the publisher and editor of PsyPost. You can follow him on Twitter @ewdolan.
 
 
 
 
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