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October 2, 2019

Photo credit: Equality Loudoun

In a letter today to Loudoun County Public Schools Superintendent Eric Williams and Loudoun County School Board Chairman Jeff Morse, the ACLU of Virginia expressed serious concerns about recent efforts to encourage removal of books from the LCPS' Diverse Classroom Libraries as well as books donated to 33 schools through the #BigGayBookDrive initiative spearheaded by Equality Loudoun.

"The First Amendment does not allow the government to get rid of or limit the use of books or ideas because they are controversial, unpopular, or offensive," stated the letter. "Purging certain books from school libraries because some parents do not like them is government action favoring the opinion of some parents over others. Passing judgments, applying labels, and red-flagging educational materials that might prompt uncomfortable but insightful discussions are activities that do not belong in our public schools."

Besides raising serious First Amendment concerns, censorship is counter to LCPS's commitment to providing access to diverse text collections for all students. "By shielding students from these books, educators miss out on opportunities to engage in a dialogue about the historical period in which a book was written, the author’s individual viewpoints, and the use of literary devices, all of which may play a part in how a group or individual is depicted," stated the letter.

The ACLU of Virginia strongly urges the School Board and all school administrators to reject calls to remove books and keep censorship out of Virginia's public schools.

You can read the full letter below.