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Virginia school board member says removed books should be burned

A Virginia school board member suggested that “sexually explicit” books removed from the school library should be burned.

During a Spotsylvania County School Board meeting on Monday, a parent raised concerns about books containing “sexually explicit” material being available at Riverbend High School in Fredericksburg.

The mother said that she was initially alarmed by “LGBTQIA” fiction in the library, but said she found other books that were even more upsetting.

She cited the book “33 Snowfish,” which details the life of three homeless teenagers attempting to escape from situations involving sexual abuse, prostitution and drug addiction.

During the meeting, board member Rabih Abuismail suggested the board approve a library audit in all district schools to review what books are made available.

Fellow member Kirk Twigg suggested that books deemed offensive be kept “in the back” where parents can still examine them.

However, Abuismail said he “didn’t even want to see them,” adding “I think they should be thrown in a fire.”

He later said he would accept Twiggs suggestion “for the sake of them [the books] being out the schools.”

Darnela Sims, director of teaching and learning for the district, said officials have already been looking into the situation and asked the board for time for staff to review existing processes for vetting library books.

Abuismail shot the idea down, saying he doesn’t like the idea of the books being on school library shelves for one more night, saying having them in the library showed the schools “would rather have our kids reading gay pornography than about Christ.”

He also criticized Superintendent Scott Baker for not being proactive on the issue. “Dr. Baker, you saw this coming from Northern Virginia — did it not occur to you to check what is on our libraries?” he asked.

However, board member Baron Braswell expressed skepticism about the matter, saying he wanted to consider both sides of the issue. He noted that what one person finds offensive, another might not.

“We have to be clear on what is offensive and should not be in our schools and what should be,” he said. “You can’t do an audit of books without developing screening criteria and you have to have facts in order to do that.”

In the end, the board voted 6–0 on the issue, ordering the removal of “sexually explicit” books this week and receiving a report next week on how many books were removed.

Tags book burning Virginia

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