Utah School District Sued for Removing Children's Book About Lesbian Parents from Library

Affiliate: ACLU of Utah
November 13, 2012 2:26 pm

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Davis School District Sued for Removing Children’s Book About Lesbian Parents from Library Shelves

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SALT LAKE CITY – The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Utah filed a lawsuit against the Davis School District after elementary schools in the district were instructed to remove a children’s book about a family with same-sex parents from library shelves.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of a mother whose children attend one of the schools where the book was restricted.

In Our Mothers’ House, by acclaimed children’s author Patricia Polacco, was initially placed in the Easy Reading section of Windridge Elementary School in Davis County. After a group of parents complained that the book “normalizes a lifestyle we don’t agree with,” the school district instructed librarians to place the book behind the library counter and to lend it only with written permission from a parent.

“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 asserts that leaving the book on the shelves would violate Utah’s sex education law, which prohibits instructional materials containing “advocacy of homosexuality.” The lawsuit argues that library books are not instructional materials under the statute and that including library books depicting families with same-sex parents does not constitute endorsement or “advocacy of homosexuality.”

“Public schools cannot remove books from the library shelves because some people disagree with the books’ viewpoint,” said John Mejia, legal director of the ACLU of Utah. “Taking a book off the shelves and hiding it behind a librarian’s desk makes the book more difficult to read, and it sends the message that there is something wrong with the book and with children who have same-sex parents.”

Polacco was inspired to write the book after attending a school assembly where a girl with same-sex parents was not allowed to read an essay about her family because a teacher said “You don’t come from a real family.” The Davis School District does not censor any of Polacco’s other books, which focus on families of different backgrounds and cultures.

“The fact of the matter is that children with same-sex parents attend schools across the country – including in Davis County. Removing books from the shelves won’t change that,” said Joshua Block, staff attorney with the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Project. “Children come from all types of families. Regardless of the race, sex or marital status of a child’s parents, they are part of the school community, and their families should not be hidden away as something shameful.”

More information about this case, including the complaint, can be found at: www.aclu.org/lgbt-rights/aw-and-cw-v-davis-school-district

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