- Two VA school board members called for burning books that have been deemed worthy of removal.
- The Spotsylvania County School Board directed staff to begin removing “sexually explicit” books from library shelves.
- The GOP has been pushing against teaching students about race and sexuality.
Amid the GOP’s nationwide push against teaching about race and sexuality in schools, two members of the Spotsylvania County School Board in Virginia advocated for burning certain books, according to the Fredericksburg-based Free Lance-Star newspaper.
This came as the school board directed staff to begin removing “sexually explicit” books from library shelves, after voting 6-0 in favor of the removal, the Lance-Star reported. The board has plans to review how certain books or materials are defined as “objectionable,” the paper said, which opens the door for other content to be removed.
Courtland representative Rabih Abuismail and Livingston representative Kirk Twigg both championed burning the books that have been removed.
“I think we should throw those books in a fire,” Abuismail said. Meanwhile, Twigg said he wanted to “see the books before we burn them so we can identify within our community that we are eradicating this bad stuff.”
Book burnings have a dark history linked to censorship and repressive regimes, and are often associated with Nazi Germany. Infamous Nazi book burnings in 1933 targeted thousands of books deemed “un-German,” including the works of Jewish authors like like Albert Einstein and Sigmund Freud, as well as banned American writers like Ernest Hemingway.
The directive to remove “sexually explicit” books was seemingly prompted by a school board meeting on Monday during which parents expressed concerns about literature students can access via the Riverbend High School’s digital library app.
One parent was apparently alarmed by the availability of “LGBTQIA” fiction, the Lance-Star said, and found a book called “33 Snowfish” by Adam Rapp especially troubling. The American Library Association named the book a Best Book for Young Adults in 2004. According to a Publishers Weekly review, the book is “dark tale about three runaways who understand hatred and violence better than love.”
As the GOP vies to win back support from suburban voters post-Trump, Republican leaders and politicians across the country have increasingly looked to schools as a prime battleground for the many culture wars they’re waging. The GOP has zeroed in on the issue of critical race theory, in particular, in this regard.
Critical race theory examines how the history of racism in the US continues to impact the country in the present day. It’s a university-level theory that is generally not explicitly taught in public schools, but Republicans have misleadingly suggested that children are being indoctrinated with it.
Recent polls show that Republicans overwhelmingly oppose teaching students critical race theory, and as many as four-in-10 GOP voters oppose educating public school students on the history of racism in the US in general.
Virginia Governor-Elect Glenn Youngkin during his recent gubenatorial campaign vowed to ban critical race theory from the state’s schools on his first day in office. A number of states already have similar laws in place.
Last month, Youngkin ran a campaign ad featuring a local mother, Laura Murphy, who fought to get Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison’s “Beloved” removed from her son’s AP English curriculum back in 2013 (her son was a senior at the time). Murphy referred to the book, which was about slavery in the US and won the 1988 Pulitzer Prize for fiction, as “some of the most explicit material you can imagine.”