Book with Lesbian Moms Back On Utah Library Shelves

By: Sunnivie Brydum
January 15 2013 3:23 PM

Utah's Davis School District returned to the shelves a children's book featuring lesbian moms after the book was removed late last year, reports the ACLU of Utah.

Last month, the ACLU filed a class-action lawsuit against the Utah school district, alleging that removing the book, In Our Mothers' House, by acclaimed children's author Patricia Polacco, violated students' First Amendment rights. 

Yesterday, the ACLU announced that it reached an agreement with the school district, and the book would once again be available to all three libraries that had copies of the book.

“I’m glad the school understands they made a mistake when they took the book off the shelves,” said Tina Weber, the mother who filed the challenge in a statement released by the ACLU yesterday. “A small group of people shouldn’t be able to impose their personal values on everyone else by taking away access to books they might disagree with. It’s not their job to decide what my kids can read — that’s my job as a parent.”

The ACLU now hopes to reach a permanent agreement with the school district to curtail future efforts at inappropriate censorship. 

“The library should be a place where students can be free to learn about the world around them,” said John Mejia, legal director of the ACLU of Utah. “That can’t happen if a book is kept behind the desk, leading students to believe that there’s something wrong with it. We’re glad the school has removed that stigma. Now we just need to make sure that this does not happen again.”

The book has been the subject of controversy since January 2012, when a parent of a Davis kindergartner questioned the age-appropriateness of the picture book. That parent gathered 25 signatures on a petition to remove the book from library shelves, and on April 30, a seven-member district committee decided the book didn't meet curriculum standards and ordered the book placed behind the library's desk, only available upon request, with explicit parental permission. 

The school district initially contended that the book violated Utah's sex-education law, which forbids material containing "advocacy of homosexuality." The lawsuit argued that library books do not fall under the statute regulating sex education, and that simply depicting a same-sex family does not constitute endorsement or "advocacy of homosexuality."

“Children with same-sex parents shouldn’t be made to feel like their families are something to be hidden away,” said Joshua Block, staff attorney with the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Project. “Davis County schools include kids from all kinds of families, including ones like the family depicted in this book. We’re glad the district recognizes this book’s place is out on the shelves, not out of sight.”

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