Salt Lake City
A Utah school district pulled a children's book from the library shelves due to explicit content –– a story of lesbian parents raising children.
From now on, if students in the Davis School District, which covers an area north of Salt Lake City, want to read “In Our Mother’s House” by Patricia Polacco, they will first need to bring a signed permission slip from their parents.
The permission slip gives the student access to Polacco's book. What is her book about? On her website she says:
Marmee, Meema, and the kids are just like any other family on the block. In their beautiful house, they cook dinner together, they laugh together, and they dance together. But some of the other families don’t accept them. They say they are different. How can a family have two moms and no dad? But Marmee and Meema’s house is full of love. And they teach their children that different doesn’t mean wrong. In Our Mothers’ House is the perfect book to teach the wonders of love and the importance of family.
Polacco, the author of over 50 children's books, told Think Progress in a recent interview posted on YouTube that the idea for In Our Mothers' House came from her experience sitting in a class where students were reading essays about their families.
When a particular girl got up to read, after a few sentences a teacher's aid told her to stop reading and to sit down, because she wasn't from a real family.
Later that day, the little girl came up to Polacco with tears in her eyes and asked her to write a book about families like her family. She promised the girl she would. The result was In Our Mothers' house.
Not appropriate for children
According to the Huffington Post, the book, published in 2009, was added to collections at five of the district's 50 elementary schools in June 2010 in an effort to be inclusive after administrators learned from the school librarian that a student was being raised by two mothers.
No objections had been made previously.
But that all changed in January, when the mother of a kindergarten student at Windridge Elementary School near Salt Lake City became upset when her child checked out the book and brought it home. The mother and her husband brought their concerns to elementary school officials.
“She didn’t think it was appropriate for her child or any other child in the elementary school,” Chris Williams, a spokesman for the Davis School District, told the Los Angeles Times.
So a school-level committee made up of teachers, administrators and parents got together and decided on a compromise. The committee decided to make the book accessible only to older children,in grades 3 through 6, although the author wrote the book for children in grades 1 – 4.
“In Our Mother’s House” by Patricia Polacco,removed from the library shelves at Windridge Elementary School near Salt Lake City.
Well, that wouldn't do for the mother. “She wasn’t happy with that decision,” Williams said. “She came back to the district with a petition signed by 25 parents to remove the book."
The petition moved the discussion to the district level, the Salt Lake Tribune says.
On April 30, a seven-member district committee reached a decision. They determined the book didn't align with district curriculum standards and voted 6-1 that the book could stay in the collection, but should be kept hidden, behind the counter, instead of on shelves.
"State law says schools can't have anything in the curriculum that advocates homosexuality," said Williams, the Salt Lake Tribune reports .
Or anything, for that matter, with sexuality in its title, Williams added.
The Utah Administrative Code makes it quite clear on its website, that as of May 1 2012,
A. The following may not be taught in Utah public schools through the use of instructional materials, direct instruction, or online instruction:
(1) the intricacies of intercourse, sexual stimulation or erotic behavior;
(2) the advocacy of homosexuality;
(3) the advocacy or encouragement of the use of contraceptive methods or devices; or
(4) the advocacy of sexual activity outside of marriage.
It is unknown if the Utah Administrative Code read differently before May 1.
From handout on Banned Books in Texas Schools
But the Davis school district is not alone.The book has been banned in other U.S. schools, including in several Texas districts.
In fact, according to The 14th Annual Report on Challenged and Banned Books in Texas Public Schools Glen Rose Intermediate was one such school.
School: Glen Rose
Book: In Our Mothers’ House,
Reason Cited: Sexual content or nudity
Action Taken: BannedChildren raised in same-sex households
The 2000 U.S. Census said that 250,000 children were being raised in same-sex households across the nation. Other estimates range anywhere from six to fourteen million. These families are not restricted to large cities or certain areas of the country; same-sex couples reside in all voting districts nationwide -- including Utah.
In 2008, more than 3,800 same-sex couples lived in Utah. According to the American Community Survey [ACS], 30% of same-sex couples in Utah are raising children. As of 2008, an estimated 2,900 of Utah’s children are living in households headed by same-sex couples, the survey says.