A school district superintendent is standing firm after the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sent him a warning letter when the district removed 14 books containing overt sexual material.
The ACLU accused the superintendent of creating a “manufactured… crisis” by too liberally interpreting the district’s responsibility under state law to respond to books challenged by parents over what the parents perceive as inappropriate material for children.
“We urge SCPS to reject the superintendent’s misguided and unconstitutional proposal to adopt a policy requiring the automatic removal of challenged books,” said the letter by the ACLU, addressed to Spotsylvania County Public Schools (SCPS) Board in Virginia.
Superintendent Mark Taylor said that he believes that the books, which were challenged by parents, had sexually explicit material that is prohibited under Virginia law, according to a statement the district shared with The Lion.
“I am a big proponent of civil liberties. I am particularly concerned about the civil liberties of parents and their right to choose whether or not their children are exposed to sexually explicit materials in contravention to Virginia law,” said Taylor in the statement. “SCPS is following state law and standing up for parental rights. Our top priority is the safety and well-being of the children entrusted to us.”
A new Virginia law passed in April 2022 prohibits sexually explicit material in schools.
One of the books which was just challenged and removed from the SCPS libraries under the new law is “Trans+,” which targets teens aged 13-18.
The book bills itself as “A groundbreaking all-inclusive, uncensored, must-have guide for teens who are living in this world, who identify as transgender, nonbinary, gender non-conforming, gender fluid, or are questioning their gender identity or how they express themselves, and for their cis-allies and advocates.”
The book contains QR codes that lead readers to sexually explicit material, which “show prosthetic penises,” and “tells viewers to check out men’s bulges either in public or google, but clear search history [afterward],” according to the parent’s challenge form, obtained by The Lion.
The book also contains nude illustrations and QR codes that lead teens to discussion boards “containing fetishes, BDSM, sex toys, masturbation and sexual engagement,” one of which is tagged for users 18 or older, according to the challenge.
The parent also reported that the book contains images of girls with prosthetic penises hidden in their underwear, nude illustrations of people going through gender transition, instructions on how trans people have sex, and fetishes such as BDSM.
“There are kinds of pain some people find sexually pleasurable – sexy, consensual pain,” says the book.
Local sources told The Lion that a bookstore and a local Ace Hardware store are planning on making some of the books available to customers to publicize their dissatisfaction with the superintendent’s decision to remove the books.
“For SCPS to willingly deprive its students of the opportunity to challenge themselves with great works of literature on timely and urgent social issues is a sad dereliction of duty,” claimed the ACLU’s Matthew Callahan, senior supervising attorney in Virginia, about the removal of the books.
However, Taylor previously said that any books removed from the school libraries would be donated to the public library and thus still be available to the general public should parents want them for their kids.