Virginia High-Schoolers Rally for Gay-Cure Books

Virginia High-Schoolers Rally for Gay-Cure Books

Groups of students and parents staged rallies and presented some 85 books on homosexuality from a conservative Christian perspective for inclusion in the libraries at 11 schools in the Fairfax County (Va.) Public School District October 2. The inspiration for their actions came from a nationwide campaign organized by the Colorado Springs, Colorado–based traditional values group Focus on the Family. Titles included Joe Dallas’s Desires in Conflict and The Gay Gospel? How Pro-Gay Advocates Misread the Bible and 101 Frequently Asked Questions about Homosexuality by Mike Haley.

Susan Thorniley, coordinator of library information services for the district, told American Libraries that students began trying to place similar books in school library collections last year, when 13 libraries received visits from students on a single day in October. “The librarians took the books and said they would review them,” Thorniley said, noting that only one of the librarians—each of whom makes book-selection decisions for their libraries—opted to include any of the proffered books in her library’s collection last year.

“The librarians felt we had substantial information from a balanced perspective,” Thorniley said. She also noted that the books failed to meet the school’s selection standards, which requires each book selected to have at least two positive reviews in professionally recognized journals. The selection policy explicitly states that “Librarians are under no obligation to include donations in the library collection.” NBC-TV affiliate WRC reported October 2 that the school district was considering whether to stop accepting donated books altogether.

Focus on the Family organized the donations through its “True Tolerance” initiative, the Washington Post reported October 3. “We hear . . . more and more that homosexuality is being promoted in schools,” said Focus on the Family Education Analyst Candi Cushman. “The word ‘tolerance’ is often used, but a faith-based viewpoint is belittled or ridiculed.”

Thorniley noted that the students asking the libraries to stock the books had not actually read them.

On the federal level, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected October 6 an appeal of a First Circuit Court of Appeals decision that upheld schools’ rights to offer positive portrayals of same-sex marriage and same-sex parents. The lower court ruled in January that “public schools are not obliged to shield individual students from ideas which potentially are religiously offensive, particularly when the school imposes no requirement that the student agree with or affirm those ideas.”

Posted on October 8, 2008. Modified on October 9, 2008. Discuss.