For more than a month now, Loudon County Public Schools (LCPS) board meetings have been packed with parents, students, concerned citizens, activist groups and alumni. The meetings have been long and contentious as participants speak out against new books purchased as part of a “diverse classroom libraries” program.

Those speaking out against the books are concerned with books that introduce young children to sexual issues such as homosexuality and cross dressing. Some books for high schoolers are laced with profanity and graphic descriptions of sexual activity. In one six hour meeting on October 22, parents and students read portions from some of these books to school board members.

The Washington Post reported on the protest, saying the “titles had been approved by Loudoun County schools staff in partnership with professional collection specialists.” One mother argued that some of the new books normalize “peer-on-peer sexual abuse” and “romanticize statutory rape.”

The Post also noted that the ACLU and some LGBT activist groups support the material. The paper spoke to one mom who thought parents were taking specific paragraphs out of context. However, the Post did not include examples of these “out of context” paragraphs in its article, perhaps because they were too sexually explicit or profane for a newspaper. Presumably LCPS board members, staff and “professional collection specialists” believe they are fine for high school students.

The district spent almost 2 million dollars, purchasing 600 new books for kindergarten through fifth grade students and 1,600 books for grades nine through 12. The district is waiting to review a policy before purchasing 1,200 books for middle schoolers.

While most of the books deal with diversity in race, culture, language, disability or religion, 131 of the books, according to the district’s count, deal with LGBTQ diversity. Books added to libraries and classrooms for kindergarteners, first and second graders include:

  • Heather Has Two Mommies – The book teaches kindergartners about lesbian couples by telling the story of Heather, who loves both Mama Kate and Mama Jane.
  • My Princess Boy – The book introduces children to gender confusion and cross-dressing, as they read about a young boy who dances like a ballerina and likes sparkly jewelry, the color pink and girly dresses.
  • Prince and Knight – Second graders can read about a prince who rejects all the ladies because he “sings a different tune.” He falls for a knight in shining army who helps save his kingdom from a dragon.

But parents aren’t just worried about introducing young children to homosexuality and transgenderism. The group Parent and Child Loudoun, initially formed to review the district’s Family Life Education Curriculum, lists a number of problems with the new reading material. According to their website:

Concerned parents raised the alarm in early September that many books incorporated LGBTQ themes in grades as early as kindergarten, including the promotion of Queer Theory concepts, as well as sexually inappropriate and even explicit language in other grades, including frequent descriptions of underage drinking, fondling, masturbation, orgasms, oral sex, sexual intercourse, sexual abuse, statutory rape, incest, and rape.

Here are just a few examples of what Parent and Child Loudon include in their list of inappropriate books for middle schoolers and high schoolers:

  • Weird Girl And What’s His Name is listed to be purchased for seventh graders. The profanity-laced book tells about a high school boy who is sexually involved with his boss, a man old enough to be his father who was previously married and has two children. The book has won numerous awards.
  • For eighth graders, the Quick & Easy Guide to They/Them Pronouns is a cartoon book where “non-binary folks” can learn the grammar of different pronouns such as Ze (subject), Hir (object), Hirs (possessive pronoun). The book includes a handy chart for correctly using a person’s “preferred pronouns.”
  • The Season of You and Me, recommended for 9th, 11th, and 12th grade students and billed online as a teen romance novel, contains profanity and sexually explicit scenes.

Like LCPS, school districts across the nation are introducing children and teens to sexually confusing, age-inappropriate and sexually explicit materials. So how can parents respond?

One response can be seen in the growing number of parents who opt out of the public-school system through homeschooling, private schools or charter schools, where parents may have more input into curriculum and libraries. Right now about 10.5 million children are being schooled through those options, but almost 51 million students attend public schools. Still, not all parents have the resources or life circumstances that would enable them to remove their children from public schools.

Parent and Child Loudoun provides an example of what parents can do to influence their children’s education:

  • Parents connected with like-minded families concerned about educational materials and provided a forum for parents to talk with each other.
  • The group carefully documented serious concerns with lessons and books.
  • Parents and students prepared and spoke out at school board meetings.
  • They put together a website where they post news articles, announce future events, and list resources. Other groups around the country have done this as well.

Of course the LCPS board may not respond well to these parents, as they recently added “sexual orientation and gender identity” to school nondiscrimination policies – again, over parent protests. Still, we applaud those brave parents who are speaking out and organizing to protect children.

Focus on the Family is well aware of this problem in education, and we have resources to help parents, family members and other concerned citizens equip their families and respond to troubling teaching materials in schools. The Daily Citizen will work to keep you informed and prepared on this issue. Here are some of those resources: