FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. — The battle over books is picking back up in Fairfax County and once again led to protests amongst parents, students, and activists at the Fairfax County School Board meeting Thursday.
This tension between activists on both sides of the issue is flaring three months after the initial call to remove certain LGBTQIA+ books from school and a little over a week after an FCPS review found that neither book in question referenced pedophilia.
Thursday night the same parent who brought the books to the board's attention in September stood before the board again claiming two new novels are illegal.
The books feature a lesbian couple as well as an LGBTQIA+ character, both include sexual content.
“This isn’t about the LGBTQ community and it’s not about the gender of the people depicted in the books having sex, it’s not about the orientation of the people in the book having sex. It’s about pornography and pedophilia," Stacy Langton said.
However, some students disagree and said Thursday they are incredibly frustrated Queer reading material is being politicized.
"For them to use these books as a political talking point to take away our representation of our library is immensely, immensely harmful for these exceptionally vulnerable LGBTQIA students," Aaryan, an FCPS student and Founder of the Pride Liberation Project said.
“They have concerns about these books but the reality is that no student is being required to read these books in FCPS and they’re only present in our high schools and secondary schools and so there’s no scenario where a student is going to walk into schools and going to see these books and is going to be forced to read them," Aaryan said.
Langton, who called for an army of angry parents to show up at Thursday's school board meeting during a radio show, said she doesn't believe this topic should have turned political.
"You can have books that are supportive to the LGBTQ community, as I said my mom was a member of that community, I was raised in that community, but they don’t have to be pornographic and there should never be an instance where there’s pedophilia depicted that should never happen," Langton said.
FCPS did a review of both books originally in question and found no pedophilia present in the book.
FCPS has a required process for selecting books and materials for school libraries, per a district statement.
With the politized movement against certain books, Aaryan said the reality is the Queer community is already feeling attacked, and this is making things worse.
"What is happening is vulnerable Queer students who are looking for some sort of affirmation in their life because we don’t have enough support resources are going into these libraries looking for these books and they’re taking that away and that’s incredibly harmful to our community," Aaryan said.
The school board did not take a vote on books brought up during a public hearing Thursday evening.
However, students did get support from some board members.
“This type of toxicity is poisonous. But it’s also inspiring. Just as inspiring as the brave comments we hear month after month from LGBTQ and staff," FCPS School Board Member Karl Frisch said.