ACLU Gets Involved in Kent School District’s Removal of LBGTQ+ Books

With a selection of books featuring LBGTQ+ characters and themes under fire in the Kent School District, the American Civil Liberties Union got involved.

On June 6, the ACLU wrote a letter to the Kent School Board urging administrators to reverse the recent decision to remove “Jack of Hearts (and Other Parts)” by Lev A.C. Rosen, made by the district curriculum materials committee. .

After an administrator unilaterally removed the book from Cedar Heights

Middle School Library Following a student complaint about the appropriateness of its content, the Kent School Board decided to submit the title for review by the Teaching Materials Committee.

Recently, the committee decided that “Jack of Hearts (and Other Parts)” was inappropriate for middle school readers because of its mature sexual themes and situations, but also because the book contains harmful hyper-sexualized stereotypes of the homosexuality, wrote their reviewer.

On June 8, the Kent School Board will consider IMC’s review of the book and may vote to take further action to determine whether this book and others like it can remain on school library shelves.

In the ACLU’s letter to the school board, they argue that banning books featuring themes and characters from specific minority groups goes against the district’s non-discrimination policy and is harmful to students.

“The District’s Non-Discrimination Policy clearly states that the District does not discriminate

in any program or activity on the basis of sex, race, creed, sexual orientation, gender expression or gender identity,” the letter read. “The fact that the only book in question being removed under the guise of protecting young people from sexual themes happens to be an LGBTQ+ themed book is blatant discrimination and against the district’s own policy.”

In the letter, the ACLU of Washington says it is a matter of “life or death” for the most vulnerable.

“LGBTQ+ youth are a particularly vulnerable population. A 2020 study published by the CDC found that suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people aged 10 to 24 and that LGBTQ+ young people are more than four times more likely to attempt suicide than their peers” , quoted the ACLU. “Research by The Trevor Project has consistently found that LGBTQ+ youth report lower rates of suicide attempts when they have access to LGBTQ+ affirmation spaces, including schools.”

They wrote that they were concerned that the lack of access to this type of literature and resources for LGBTQ+ youth could force them to seek out toxic misinformation.

In the letter, the ACLU said it would monitor the situation and “determine how to proceed” after the June 8 school board meeting.

“The Constitution prohibits community members or school officials from imposing their own personal opinions and concerns on an entire school community,” the letter read. “The Board has no reason to deny a student access to a specific book due to some parents’ disagreement and discomfort with the book’s content.”

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Colin L. Johnson