Virginia School Board Divided Over Whether to Ban or Burn Books

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.

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.”

Dear Reader,

When we asked recently what makes TPM different from other outlets, readers cited factors like honesty, curiosity, transparency, and our vibrant community. They also pointed to our ability to report on important stories and trends long before they are picked up by mainstream outlets; our ability to contextualize information within the arc of history; and our focus on the real-world consequences of the news.

Our unique approach to reporting and presenting the news, however, wouldn’t be possible without our readers’ support. That’s not just marketing speak, it’s true: our work would literally not be possible without readers deciding to become members. Not only does member support account for more than 80% of TPM’s revenue, our members have helped us build an engaged and informed community. Many of our best stories were born from reader tips and valuable member feedback.

We do what other news outlets can’t or won’t do because our members’ support gives us real independence.

If you enjoy reading TPM and value what we do, become a member today.

TPM Staff
Latest Edblog
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Investigations Desk:
Director of Audience:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: