Books removed for review will return to Virginia Beach schools | State and Area News

Sierra Jenkins The Virginia Pilot (Norfolk)

VIRGINIA BEACH — About four months after content complaints led to the removal of six books from the Virginia Beach school library, several school division committees decided to put them back on the shelves.

Each committee decided that the books could provide students with different perspectives and life experiences and support teaching materials taught in other subjects, while noting the lasting impact certain works could have on students, among other reasons. .

The division’s director of studies sent a memorandum to board members on January 28 with the committees’ findings. Books under consideration included “A Lesson Before Dying” by Ernest J. Gaines, “The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison, “Lawn Boy” by Jonathan Evison, “Good Trouble” by Christopher Noxon, “Beyond Magenta” by Susan Kuklin and “Gender Queer” by Maia Kobabe.

Committee members were asked to read the text and answer six discussion questions based on the teaching materials policy. Almost every committee had a parent, a student, a teacher, a media specialist from the library, and a coordinator from the division’s Department of Teaching and Learning. Each committee unanimously agreed to keep its assigned book.

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MemberVictoria Manning problems listed with four of the six books in an Oct. 5 email to Superintendent Aaron Spence after he said parents had raised concerns.

The books have become a hot topic in recent months after a debate over whether controversial teachings challenge students to think in a particular way. State lawmakers also addressed the issue this week, passing a Invoice in the Senate that would require the Virginia Department of Education to develop guidelines for school boards on how to notify parents of “sexually explicit” content assigned to their student.

The two books by Gaines and Morrison can be taught in grades 11 and 12 respectively as supplementary teaching materials. “The Bluest Eye” is only approved for seniors in Advanced Placement Literature. Students can consult the other four books in the school library.

“The Bluest Eye” has been questioned because of sexually explicit scenes. The members – a media specialist from the high school library, a teacher, parents and a department coordinator – decided that the scenes “did not replace the message and purpose of the book” after reading it and d other information online.

Morrison’s book has been one of the most contested in the past three decades, according to the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom. But it will remain in district libraries and available as supplemental teaching materials because it provides students with perspectives (particularly from black women) they would not typically encounter, addresses several social issues, and is referenced in the review of advanced placement, according to the report.

School officials initially removed Kobabe’s “Gender Queer” from circulation because some of the graphics did not meet the division’s “expectations of educational value,” a spokesperson said in an email to The Virginian. -Pilot in October. But it was reinstated on the recommendation of the committee.

“A committee member did not initially recommend retaining the book in high school libraries due to objections to graphic representations in the novel,” wrote Kipp Rogers, district director of studies. “After the high school student talked about the book’s benefits in helping students who struggle to identify, the committee member agreed to vote to keep the book in the library.”

Rogers noted that he and Spence had concerns about the book’s graphics, but that those concerns “did not justify the removal of the book from school libraries for voluntary student payment”.

Colin L. Johnson