Sunday, April 27, 2014

Fauquier County, Virginia High School - What’s So Scary About Two Boys Kissing?

Fauquier County High School

My late father often said that Virginia could be an amazing state but for some of its residents who think small, embrace ignorance, and try to move the state backwards in time.  In many ways, the problem continues to haunt the state today, especially in rural areas where being an ignorant, backward bigot is considered a badge of honor in some circles (think The Family Foundation and today's Virginia GOP).  A while back I mentioned a controversy that had flared up at Fauquier High School located on the southern edge of Northern Virginia where a mother was having a cow because the high school library contained a book entitled "Two Boys Kissing."  The synopsis of the book reads as follows:
(Two Boys Kissing) tells the based-on-true-events story of Harry and Craig, two 17-year-olds who are about to take part in a 32-hour marathon of kissing to set a new Guinness World Record—all of which is narrated by a Greek Chorus of the generation of gay men lost to AIDS. While the two increasingly dehydrated and sleep-deprived boys are locking lips, they become a focal point in the lives of other teen boys dealing with languishing long-term relationships, coming out, navigating gender identity, and falling deeper into the digital rabbit hole of gay hookup sites—all while the kissing (former) couple tries to figure out their own feelings for each other.
As The New Civil Rights Movement reports, Jessica Wilson, complained to Principal Clarence Burton III that the cover of the book depicts a public display of affection, which are against school policy. Needless to say, if the cover showed a straight couple kissing, there would have been no controversy.  Thankfully, to date Wilson and similar thinking bigots have lost out in the effort to have the book removed.  Here are highlights:

Principal Burton assembled a panel of school staff and parents who reviewed the book, and voted to keep it. Jessica Wilson then appealed that decision to Fauquier School District’s superintendent David Jeck, who assembled a review committee to consider the matter. 

This week the panel invited public comment – and they got it. 

About fifty people packed the Fauquier’s “Falcon Room” where opinion for and against the book seemed evenly divided. Six letters were read from people unable to attend, including one by the award-winning author, David Levithan. Twenty-four people spoke both for and against the book.
Fauquier Now gave this rundown of the speakers:

Marie Miller, a teacher at FHS and the advisor for the school publication The Falconer said that she believes that those opposing the book were doing so not because of it’s lack of appropriateness for the students, but because it is a story about gay teens.
After all the speeches were made, the committee voted unanimously to retain the book in the library.

Jessica Wilson, who made the complaint, did not choose to make a public comment, but said she was happy with the turn out. She still has the option to appeal the decision to the school board, but I hope she doesn’t. I hope she listened to the back and forth and realized books and ideas are not things to be afraid of. Books don’t turn kids gay, and keeping information from gay kids won’t turn them straight. 
If you want to know what's wrong with Virginia, Jessica Wilson is a prime example as is Victoria Cobb of The Family Foundation (and her fellow hate merchants) not to mention the lunatics of the Virginia GOP who jump to Victoria Cobb's whip like trained circus dogs.

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