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Christian Students Cry “Censorship” After Libraries Reject Anti-Gay Books

Fairfax County, VA

More than 40 conservative Christian students protested outside West Springfield High School in Fairfax County, Virginia during the American Library Association’s Banned Books Week because librarians in the district had turned down their donations of anti-gay books. The students, many wearing T-shirts that read “Closing Books Shuts Out Ideas,” claimed that by rejecting the books the librarians had engaged in censorship and violated their rights.

Over the past year, the students donated more than 100 books to a dozen high school libraries in Fairfax County through the “True Tolerance” initiative organized by the National Far Right Organization, Focus on the Family. The organizers say they are trying to create more balance within libraries by providing a conservative Christian view to counter the “pro-gay” books on the shelves. The books, most of which were published by small church publishers, included titles like Marriage on Trial: The Case Against Same-Sex Marriage and Parenting and Someone I Love Is Gay, which argues that homosexuality is not “a hopeless condition.”[1]
School librarians, however, decided the books did not meet school system requirements. The coordinator of library information services for Fairfax County schools pointed to a county policy that requires all books to have received two positive reviews from professionally recognized journals before they can be purchased for the library. Furthermore, many librarians were concerned that the books did not demonstrate an adequate level of research and would make gay students “feel inferior.”[2]
Still, Focus on the Family claims it is trying to fight censorship. An education analyst for the group, said, “We hear . . . more and more that homosexuality is being promoted in schools. The word tolerance is often used, but a faith-based viewpoint is belittled or ridiculed.”[3] Other organizations, such as Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays and Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, have recently launched similar efforts to get more books challenging homosexuality into libraries.
In response to the effort, the president of Equality Fairfax, a local gay group, said she was “happy to see that anti-gay groups are switching tactics from banning books to actually trying to add books to a library” and applauded the librarians for sticking to their neutral standards for deciding which titles to stock. [4]
The district’s library coordinator has said she is willing to help find books that present a Christian view on homosexuality, so long as they include other views and meet the county’s standards. Meanwhile, some of the student protesters say they have donated another round of books and are waiting to hear if these ones will be accepted.

[1] Michael Alison Chandler, “Banned Books, Chapter 2: Conservative Group Urges Libraries to Accept Collection,” Washington Post, 3 October 2008, accessed 21 October 2008, <>.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Chris Johnson, “Religious group decries snub of anti-gay books: Students hold news conference at Fairfax County high school,” Washington Blade, 17 October 2008, accessed 21 October 2008, <>.