Alamance-Burlington Schools, the latest district to hear complaints about LGBTQ-themed books

Anthony and Mamie Brooks say they think they have a good chance of having some books removed from Alamance-Burlington school system libraries over the next two months.

It’s part of a larger effort to remove LGBTQ-themed books from schools across the state, they said.

“There is a process for writing letters of grievance,” Mamie Brooks said. “The next step is to submit it to the superintendent and principals so they can do their review.”

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As of Friday, the school district had not confirmed the status of Brooks’ grievance process.

The list of books Brooks opposes has become familiar to anyone following the current controversies before school boards statewide and nationwide.

“What we see at school board meetings and what explodes is the last era of culture war, it went from anti-masking to anti (critical race theory), now we are anti-LGBTQ,” said Todd Warren of advocacy group Down Home North Carolina and former teacher.

“I think there’s been a lot of hot air about so-called solutions to a problem that just doesn’t exist.”

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Books on Brooks’ list include Lawn Boy, an award-winning novel that has been compared to “Catcher in the Rye” and contains crude and sexually explicit scenes, and a graphic novel titled “Gender Queer.” What most have in common are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender themes.

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Mamie Brooks told the school board in June that these books violated state law on the dissemination of obscenity, but like many legal matters, this is subject to interpretation.

“Under the law, school districts, school boards have some control over the books that go into libraries and curricula, but students also have a right to access First Amendment information,” he said. said Dan Siegel, attorney at the ACLU of North Carolina. “So if a school wants to remove books from a library or from the curriculum, sometimes they can, but it has to be for legitimate reasons.”

Supreme Court precedent does not allow books to be removed for partisan political reasons, hostility toward the groups represented in them, or objections to the ideas expressed in them, Siegel said, even if they portray sex or sexuality.

“Just because a book deals with mature themes, it doesn’t detract from the artistic or educational value of the book,” Siegel said.

The Brooks say they represent a larger group called FACTS 2.0, a name taken from Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson’s FACTS task force (equity and accountability in the classroom for teachers and students), and got their list of books from the Pavement Education Project, a statewide group trying to get sexual and LGBTQ-themed books out of schools.

They haven’t read them all.

“I watched a few of them,” Mamie Brooks said.

This year, the Brooks went to the school board to oppose a variety of things, including critical race theory and equity in education, all of which they call forms of Marxist indoctrination.

“We have no problem fighting multiple battles,” Mamie Brooks said.

Anthony Brooks said he took his daughter to Graham High School two years ago for what he called indoctrination and received similar reports from parents, teachers and students of the Triangle and the Triad.

Although she did not share the name of her legal counsel, Mamie Brooks said she believed they could use state law to remove the books they objected to from schools.

The Brooks said they were encouraged by the response they received from the Alamance-Burlington School Board and did not believe it would result in legal action. Council chairwoman Sandy Ellington-Graves said she simply relayed information to them about the district’s grievance policy and process.

This process begins at the school level with the principal and a committee, then the district superintendent and another committee before moving to the school board, according to information shared by Ellington-Graves.

Colin L. Johnson