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Spotsylvania school board orders 'sexually explicit' books removed from libraries

The board ordered libraries to remove "objectionable" books after parent complaints, but what qualified a book as objectionable was not defined.

SPOTSYLVANIA, Va. — Spotsylvania school librarians are clearing their shelves of books deemed "sexually explicit" after a parent complained of finding shocking titles on sexuality, faith, and race. Some staffers and students are now starting to push back on the plan. 

The school board voted unanimously to remove the books Monday, with two members even advocating burning the offensive books. 

The school library book purge started with a complaint from parents Christina and Robert Burris.

"I can't get a straight answer from anybody, who chooses these books?" Christina Burris complained.

The Burris' --- and the school board -- were particularly offended by "Call Me By Your Name," a book about a relationship between a 17-year-old and his parent's adult house guest that was made into an award-winning movie.

"It's sickening, it's sickening, it's sickening," school board member Rabih Abuismail said, after hearing the titles and themes the Burris' were complaining about.

They also pointed to "33 Snowfish," a Library Association Best Book for Young Adults about three runaways "who understand hatred and violence better than love."

Christina Burris used her own search in the Riverbend High School digital library app as proof for her argument. 

"Results for gay, 172. Results for heterosexual, two," she told the school board. "One of the two books is actually "Speak No Evil, Hear No Evil," which is about a Nigerian gay boy. Results for pedophilia, 16. Lesbian, 84. Jesus, 19, but half of them are about Muslims." 

The board voted 6 to 0 to pull all "objectionable" books from school shelves, although it failed to define the term "objectionable." 

"I just think it's stupid," said Riverbend High 10th grader Katelyn Jennings. "We're in high school. You can make your own decisions about what's decent and indecent, hat we can read and can't." 

Abuismail and another board member, Kirk Twigg, suggested the banned books should be burned. 

"I think those banned books should be thrown on the fire," Abuismail said. 

Twigg suggested bringing them to the board, so they can, "see the books before we burn them so we can identify with our community that we are eradicating this bad stuff." 

"I've seen a lot of stupid in Spotsylvania Schools," wrote Kelly Lucia, on Facebook. "But this nonsense absolutely takes the cake." 

The superintendent says staffers will immediately start removing books, and report back to the school board at an emergency meeting called for next week.

This story was first reported by the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star.

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