Virginia School Board Divided Over Whether to Ban or Burn Books

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November 10, 2021 3:48 p.m.

The County School Board in Spotsylvania County, Virginia is divided. Not over whether to remove books that they define as “sexually explicit” from the district’s school libraries. They voted unanimously (6-0) to do so, though one board member wasn’t present. The division was between those members who wanted to remove the books and those who wanted to remove them from the shelves also burn them.

The burn group was made up of Courtland representative Rabih Abuismail and Livingston representative Kirk Twigg. “I think we should throw those books in a fire,” said Abuismail.

Twigg seemed both more methodical and extreme, saying he wants to “see the books before we burn them so we can identify within our community that we are eradicating this bad stuff.”

Concerns seemed to focus specifically on a young adult fiction book called 33 Snowfish by Adam Rapp which is about runaways and has LGBTQ themes. To Abuismail, the fact that the District’s schools have Rapp’s book on its shelves means that the schools “would rather have our kids reading gay pornography than about Christ.” So there’s that.

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Abuismail made news in 2019 when he was first elected to the school board at the age of 22, the youngest person ever elected to public office in Spotsylvania County.

For now, they’re only removing the books rather than burning them. They’re going to start removing the “sexually explicit” books this week and then get a report next week about how many books were removed. Kirk Twigg said he’ll want to broaden the ban beyond sexually explicit materials because “there are some bad, evil-related material that we have to be careful of and look at.”

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