Utah School Removes Book About Lesbian Moms

Students need their parent's permission to read a picture book about kids with gay mothers.
A Utah school district near Salt Lake City sides with parents and pulls 'In Our Mothers' House' from library shelves.
Jun 4, 2012
Kelly Zhou has written on a variety of topics for TakePart, predominantly politics, education, and wildlife.

A children’s book about kids with lesbian mothers was recently removed from library shelves in a Utah school district after a number of parents complained about the story’s content. The book, In Our Mothers’ House by Patricia Polacco, tells the happy story of Marmee and Meema, and their interracial family.

The controversy about the book began in January after a kindergartener’s mom reacted negatively to the story. Her child had checked the book out and brought it home from school. “She didn’t think it was appropriate for her child or any other child in the elementary school,” district spokesperson Chris Williams told the Los Angeles Times.

A school committee moved the title, which was recommended for students in kindergarten through second grade, to the part of the library designated for students in third to sixth grade. A group of parents were not content with this and their persistence led a district-level committee to the conclusion that the book did not meet district curriculum standards.

State law says schools can’t have anything in the curriculum that advocates homosexuality.

While the book was originally intended to foster inclusion and support a student in the district with two moms, it has now been moved behind counters as per the district committee’s 6-1 vote. According to The Salt Lake Tribune, students can still check out the book in the Davis School District, but only with a permission slip from a parent.

“State law says schools can’t have anything in the curriculum that advocates homosexuality,” district spokesman Chris Williams said. “That is why it is now behind the counter.”

Librarians in the area are concerned about the district’s new push to remove other potentially controversial titles from shelves as well.

“I’ve never seen this happen,” DaNae Leu, a media specialist at Snow Horse Elementary School in Kaysville, told The Salt Lake Tribune. “It’s almost like they want to preemptively pull books that might disturb somebody.”

The children’s book has also been banned in a number of Texas private schools, according to a 2010 report from the American Civil Liberties Union. Some of the reasons cited for the ban included “sexual content or nudity.” Other banned books that include LGBT content are And Tango Makes Three, a children’s book by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson, about two male penguins hatching an egg at the zoo.

Some gay rights advocates responded to the Utah book removal with mixed feelings.

“It would have been more disturbing if they had actually removed the book from the library,” Brandie Balken, director of Equality Utah, said in an interview with Reuters. “I think at its core though (the decision) says that we need to continue to take steps to acknowledge the diversity within our communities.”

How do you feel about this book being removed from library shelves? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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