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#1 STORY

5 November 2001


PABBIS participates in Conference co-hosted by the Education Writers Association and the First Amendment Center


A PABBIS representative was on a panel discussing school book selection at the 3 November Conference on The First Amendment and Public Schools held at the Newseum in Arlington, VA. Their opening remarks were the following:

Parents trust that public schools use good judgment in choosing reading material for their children and most do. But awareness is increasing in recent years that this is not always the case. Subject matter found in books used in English and History classes includes graphic details of sexual acts, oral sex, gang rape, pedophilia, bestiality, prostitution, torture, drug use, abortion and other graphic and gratuitous violence. As parents step forward to object, it is unfortunate that they are labeled “book banners” and “censors” simply for trying to exercise their parental responsibilities and rights to direct the upbringing of their children. Book banning and censorship are inflammatory and misleading words. From our perspective, individual beliefs and individual family values are really what are being censored and banned.

Most people agree that certain words, phrases and depictions are obscene or vulgar. Many are defined as such in the dictionary. Their use in literature does not make them any less so. We can also agree that watching strangers have sex, which is what one’s mind is doing when reading a sexually explicit passage full of graphic details, is outside the norm of school-endorsed behavior, as is viewing repulsive graphic violence.

Parents Against Bad Books in Schools (PABBIS) was formed with three purposes…1) to inform people about this important issue, 2) to let people know exactly what material is in the books, and 3) to let people know what they can do about it. All this information is available on the PABBIS web site at www.pabbis.org.

Efforts of the PABBIS organization are focused on two goals. The first is that book selection criteria for schools live up to basic standards of decency. PABBIS believes that “not legally obscene” is much too low of a benchmark for school literature standards. The second goal is to have up-front informed parental consent for controversial content.

My school system in Fairfax County has policies for students that prohibit vulgar, patently offensive and obscene language and writing, inappropriate movies and harmful Internet content. These help ensure a safe, respectful place to learn. Our school board has been asked to apply the same common sense policies to reading selections. If students are held to standards, shouldn’t educators be also?

Virginia Law states that “The entire scheme of instruction shall emphasize moral education through lessons given by teachers and imparted by appropriate reading selections.” Given that public schools must operate within this law, educators are obligated to use extra care in selecting reading materials that will be offered to other people’s minor children. Virginia Law also states that the local school board has the responsibility for “Placing special emphasis on the thorough evaluation of materials related to controversial or sensitive topics such as sex education, moral education, and religion.”

The Supreme Court allows for removal, from school libraries and classrooms, of books that are deemed to be pervasively vulgar or educationally unsuitable. The Court, in Pico v. Board of Education, 1982, maintains that school board actions, in reviewing questionable materials, should reflect “community interest in promoting respect for authority and traditional values be they social, moral or political.” The Court wisely recognizes the schools’ unique position of influence.

Although the law states that morality and traditional values are the principles that should guide the choice of school literature, it is evident that this is not always the case. Instead we see our schools becoming a minefield of vulgar, sexually explicit and graphically violent books. These books are in the libraries and the curriculum, in regular, International Baccalaureate and Advanced Placement classes, and on required, choice and suggested reading lists. In effect, the public schools have joined others in our society in marketing sex and violence to our minor children. Spending taxpayer money to do this is of great concern.

With no school policy to eliminate extreme book content, parents, who happen to find out that their child is about to read, is reading, or already has read an objectionable book, must resort to challenging books to get the attention of the school system. But the cards are stacked against the challenger from the very start. Committees formed by Fairfax County schools to deal with book challenges consist mostly of employees of the school, who are either trained that it is wrong to remove something that has already been selected or are interested in maintaining the status quo, which means “never admit a mistake.” A few carefully selected parents are included and they are easily led along in discussions aimed at reaching a consensus. It is a discriminatory and biased process.

For a school library challenge, the American Library Association clearly states its aim is to be proactive in making sure all challenges fail, regardless of their merits. Their position seems to be “anything goes if not legally obscene,” even for what is openly offered to children without parental supervision. They make no distinction between school libraries and public libraries.

A free marketplace of ideas is part of what makes our country great. But it is overstepping proper boundaries for state-run schools to present those ideas in books with extreme controversial content. Educators who believe such content has merit are actually sending a message to students that reading sexual and violent material is intellectually important and that their parents’ values don’t count.

Public education is supposed to be for all children. So why do some teachers, librarians and administrators choose to promote reading material they know will offend many, if not most? This attitude is arrogant, disrespectful and irresponsible. Many families have high standards of moral conduct. Educators make a serious mistake when they adopt the lowest standards with an extreme position of “anything goes if not legally obscene.”

Books with extreme content have no place in any of our schools. All other books should be carefully scrutinized for grade level appropriateness. For books that are not extreme, but still contain controversial material, educators who insist on their use should offer up-front disclosure of contents and specific parental consent before use. This would respect the diversity of viewpoints held by students’ families. The reluctance to do this that we have seen in Fairfax County is very troubling. Educators say that parents have a right to oversee what their children are reading, yet balk at disclosing specific content. They realize that if it’s too inconvenient or time-consuming, parents won’t bother to check for themselves. And they figure the few who do check and find a problem can be “handled” and made to feel like they are overreacting. The attitude conveyed is “we know what’s best for your child.”

The National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) recognizes that parents have a right to choose what their children will read. The NCTE also states, on their web site, that a book rationale should be done prior to book selection and that special emphasis should be placed on controversial material so that parents know when to select an alternate book. PABBIS favors this and believes the information should be objective and quantitative so parents may decide for themselves and their child.

Teachers can expose students to American and other cultures without resorting to crude portrayals characterized by vulgarity, sexuality and violence. Use of such material in schools, no matter what context it is used in, no matter what contemporary or multicultural message it is intended to convey, is in direct conflict with many people’s values. Just as students are required to use self-restraint in action, language and writing, educators should use self-restraint, discretion and professional judgment. Both the student and the teacher need to convey their messages with good taste.

The most disturbing aspect of the current situation is that parents seem to have lost the liberty to raise their children in accordance with their values. Use of graphic and controversial material in schools looks to us like a totalitarian approach to a state dictated belief system. This is wrong. In America the state should not trample on a family’s beliefs. “Anything goes” extremists need to exercise self-censorship when their actions will impact others.

Educators and parents must work cooperatively and trustfully in the best interest of children. When we tell our children that school is a good place for them to be and their teachers deserve respect, we want to be telling them the truth. Some educators have forgotten that their clients are the parents, and that it is important to have a trusting relationship with them. Honesty about what they want to teach our kids is paramount to this trust. The real fear, we believe, is that as the light begins to shine clearly on the sexually explicit and graphically violent material they sometimes use with our children, it is becoming very awkward for them to justify it to concerned and angry parents. As PABBIS continues to shine the light, awareness and concern is growing.

One more point is really critical to note. No one at PABBIS is trying to take away anyone’s right to read any book. Parents who want their children to read extreme controversial material are not restricted from doing so. Such books are available in public libraries and bookstores. Removing a book from a school setting does not mean it is “banned” from the community, just that schools cannot endorse age-inappropriate vulgar, obscene and violent reading material in their libraries and classrooms. Beyond those extreme cases, up-front informed parental consent respects everyone's rights.

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#2 STORY

3 September 2001


NEW - List of Lists now available on PABBIS website - NEW

Lists of challenged or controversial books from various sources have been worked into one consolidated master list. This New PABBIS List of Lists has over 700 books on it. This list was developed in response to reader recommendations and requests for information on controversial books. Books on this list may or may not be appropriate for your child. The following sources lists were used in developing this List of Lists:

- The 100 most challenged books 1990-1999; The American Library Association (ALA)
- The 50 most challenged books 1990-1992; Banned in the U.S.A. by Herbert N. Foerstel
- Challenged or Banned Mar 94 - Mar 95; ALA Newsletter on Intellectual Freedom
- Challenged or Banned May 98 - Mar 99; ALA Newsletter on Intellectual Freedom
- Books on Modern Library's 100 Best Books of the 20th Century that have been challenged or banned
- Books on National Council of Teachers of English CD-ROM of book rationales/pre-packaged book challenge responses
- Books challenged somewhere in the United States in the last 15 years; Waldenbook promotion
- List of Gay, Lesbian and bisexual books; compiled by Marin Younker April 97
- List of books with Gay and Lesbian characters and themes in Children’s Books; listed on an annotated bibliography by Wendy L. Betts copyright 1995
- Books challenged or banned in Wisconsin in recent years; Marathon County Public Library, WI
- Banned and Challenged Books in Texas Public Schools; year unknown


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#3 STORY

5 January 2002


The Most Frequent Explanations Schools Give Parents For Using Bad Books


PABBIS hears from parents and school officials all over the country that are involved in book disputes and issues. PABBIS has consolidated and compiled a list of the most common reasons parents are given by educators as to why bad books are being used. They are presented in the following Top 16 Reasons List. This list is not all inclusive, but it does address the vast majority of explanations given. The reasons are very consistent throughout the country. It appears that the educators all took the same Justification for Extreme Material 101 training class.

Reason #16 - We didn't know it was in there. We don't read the books.
We are laughing so hard it hurts.

Reason #15 - It's the only book that has this type of material. It's an aberration.
Yeah, right. It's the only cockroach in the restaurant. Besides, if they don't read them how do they know?

Reason #14 - These children are in accelerated classes and require "mature" books
A 13 year old child who reads well is still 13 years old. A 15 year old child who reads well is still 15 years old. There are many difficult and advanced books without graphic sex and violence. Mature is a misleading word. Plenty of mature adults don't want to read books with graphic content. Since when has extreme material become a sign of maturity?

Reason #13 - We need to use this material to get the children interested in reading
Should we put sex and violence in science and math classes to get the students more interested in these subjects? If it took Playboy to get students interested in reading would that be used?

Reason #12 - Your children can see graphic and explicit sex and violence, and other controversial material anyway. (TV, Internet, Movies)
Yes they can, especially if their parents allow it. It might surprise some school officials but the computers and TV's in our homes come with an off switch. Movies are rated and no children under certain ages are allowed in theaters without their parent. Schools have internet filters, regulations prohibiting possession of pornographic material, access to pornographic internet sites, and the showing of movies that are below rated age levels

Reason #11 - This material is not technically legally obscene
This isn't a very high standard for children. Most parents and families have much higher standards than this.

Reason #10 - The world is not a pretty place. These "things" really happen.
First, these books are fiction books. Second, many things happen in the "real world" that are not allowed in school. There are rules against sexual harassment, fighting, drug and alcohol use, vulgar language, using computers to access pornography, etc. Note that some of these activities are allowed out of school or by adults , but that in school, different rules apply. Third, just because Columbine, Ted Bundy, Jeff Dahmer, child rape, etc. are "real world" and "happen" should our children read in vivid disgusting detail about these kinds of atrocities?

Reason #9 - We are professional educators. We know what is best for your child.
Yeah, and we're from the Government and are here to help you. This is what Totalitarians, Communists and the Taliban told the people. Even the United Nations states it is a right for parents to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children (or not). Even if educators think they know best, that does not give them the right to trample on our rights.

Reason #8 - Intellectual freedom
For whom? The teachers can have all the "intellectual freedom they want, when outside of the K-12 schools and with our children not involved.

Reason #7 - Children need to learn about "these things". It's a necessary part of growing up and their education. Without this they will be naive about the "real world" and turn into sex sluts, drug addicts, alcoholics, etc. when "exposed to the real world".
In English and History class?! We don't think so. We will elect to teach our children about "these things" if and when, and in the manner we desire, outside of these classes. If learning these things was really necessary, how come they are not stated in the course objectives and standards of learning? Isn't "sex ed" covered in other classes?

Reason #6 - This material is necessary to teach "multi-culturalism"
What?! The culture of sadomasochism or pedophilia? Are you trying to tell us that all books about other cultures contain graphic/explicit sex and violence? That is certainly insulting to other cultures. Why don't schools respect all the diversity of cultures, including those that don't want their children reading extreme material?

Reason #5 - Parents can always select another book if they object
How are parents to know what is in the books? They are busy and cannot read them all. Educators typically say that parents have a right to "choose another book", yet refuse to disclose specific controversial content prior to use.

Reason #4 - Children can decide to stop reading the book when they "feel uncomfortable"
So our children should have to read a scene with oral sex or some other objectionable material to decide they are "uncomfortable"? It's the parents, not the child's decision. Some children would feel "comfortable" with the Playboy photos and letters, but parents should have the call.

Reason #3 - Freedom of Speech
For whom? Teachers? Authors? Book publishers? Or the students? K-12 students are children and minors, under the care of their parents until they reach legal age. Their parents 1st Amendment rights, not the teachers, is the real issue. What we are concerned with here is the 1st Amendment right for the consumer (not the producer) of the speech to exercise their right not to listen. Any parents who want their children to read Playboy, or even more graphic and explicit material, are able to allow this in their home, out of the schools. The 1st Amendment provides for free excercise of belief/religion. The schools should not be able to violate a families beliefs and values. The courts have consistently decided that freedom of speech rights do not fully apply to children in the school halls, classroom or student newspaper. No one at PABBIS is trying to take away anyone's right to read any book. Parents who want their children to read extreme controversial material are not restricted from doing so. Such books are available in public libraries and bookstores. Removing a book from a school setting, limiting access to certain grades, or obtaining parental consent before use does not mean it is "banned" from the community, just that schools cannot endorse age-inappropriate, vulgar, indecent and violent reading material in their libraries and classrooms. Free speech rights do not mean "anything goes" in the school. Individual beliefs and individual family values are really what are being censored and banned today.

Reason #2 - You are taking the graphic/explicit parts "out of context". "In context" it's different, and not offensive.
No, it's still offensive "in context". Students are prohibited from profanity, obscenity and sexual harassment in the halls, classrooms and in student newspapers even if "in context". Movies with graphic/explicit material still receive an NC-17 rating although the material is "in context" and not legally obscene. Are school standards lower than Hollywood's?

Reason #1 - We like this stuff, we think your children should read it, we don't care what parents think and we have been getting away with it because we have had the power to trample over your rights, beliefs and values.
Yes, schools have been trampling over our rights, values and beliefs and doing it more often. Yes, schools generally will fight any parents who object to an "anything goes if not legally obscene" position. PABBIS will continue to fight for minimum Standards of Decency in school books and Upfront Informed Parental Consent. Perhaps this issue will ultimately have to be decided through a violation of civil rights court case if the schools continue down the path that they are now on.

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#4 STORY

17 April 2002


Graphic and Extreme Reading Material in Fairfax County Public Schools - Myths and Facts


MYTH: Graphic and extreme books are only a library issue in FCPS

FACTS: Many of these books are in the curriculum, in regular, IB and AP classes, and on required, choice and suggested reading lists. The material found in some books used in English and History class includes graphic details of sexual acts, rapes, gang rapes, incest, oral sex, bestiality, necrophilia, pedophilia, homosexuality, sex associated with violence, torture, gratuitous violence, and other extreme content. The PABBIS website at www.pabbis.org, has page after page of specifics of just what type of material this is. It is not Harry Potter stuff. It is not what was considered controversial when parents were in K-12 school. It is very explicit and graphic and none of it is required to meet class objectives. These books are currently used without any upfront informed consent from parents. The three most recently challenged books in FCPS (Druids, The Pillars of the Earth, and Gates of Fire) were all used in the 9th and 10th grade. The truth is graphic and extreme books are used in the FCPS curriculum and are also recommended as the “best books” by being placed on summer reading lists. It seems Fairfax County Schools have joined others in our society in marketing sex and violence to our minor children.


MYTH: Books with graphic sex and violence are required to meet instructional objectives.

FACTS: Nothing in the SOL, Program of Instruction, or Learning Objectives requires use of books with graphic content. Many books without graphic material are available to achieve instruction objectives. Non-controversial books are used to teach the same Virginia required classes in other counties in the state, and in other high schools in this county.


MYTH: Most of these books are “classic literature” and are used in K-12 schools throughout the country.

FACTS: FCPS, through choice, is on the cutting edge of extreme graphic K-12 books. Very few public schools use these books and none so many as FCPS. The last three books challenged in FCPS were copyrighted in 1991, 1989 and 1998, fairly new to have become classic and widely used as K-12 literature. Baby-Be Bop, according to FCPS a book about “a boy comes to terms with being gay after he receives surreal storytelling visitations from his dead father and great-grandmother” was just copyrighted in 1995. This book, which contains homosexual oral sex and other controversial material, is in some FCPS middle schools. It is one of a series of controversial books, all by the same author. FCPS has spent lots of money in purchasing this series. The books in this series all have catchy covers and are very easy to read. The reading level difficulty of these books is at the level of 4-5th grade or below. Will FCPS place them in elementary schools next?


MYTH: The Bill of Rights and “free speech” somehow allow use of graphic and extreme material, without limit, in the K-12 schools.

FACTS: Free speech for whom? Teachers? Authors? Book publishers? Or students? K-12 students are children and minors, under the care of their parents until they reach legal age. Their parents 1st Amendment rights, not the teachers, are the real issue. What we are concerned with here is the 1st Amendment right for the consumer (not the producer) of the speech to exercise their right not to listen. Any parents who want their children to read Playboy, or even more graphic and explicit material, are able to allow this in their home, out of the schools. The 1st Amendment provides for free exercise of belief/religion. The schools should not be able to violate a families beliefs and values. The courts have consistently decided that freedom of speech rights do not fully apply to children in the school halls, classroom or student newspaper. No one at PABBIS is trying to take away anyone’s right to read any book. Parents who want their children to read extreme controversial material are not restricted from doing so. Such books are available in public libraries and bookstores. Removing a book from a school setting, limiting access to certain grades, or obtaining parental consent before use does not mean it is “banned” from the community, just that schools cannot endorse age-inappropriate, vulgar, indecent and violent reading material in their libraries and classrooms. Free speech rights do not mean "anything goes" in the school. Individual beliefs and individual family values are really what are being censored and banned today.

The Pico Supreme Court case was a landmark decision concerning free speech and 1st amendment rights of minors. It said that books cannot be removed from public school libraries solely because of the "ideas" contained in the book. However it also explicitly stated that school boards do have the right to remove books if they are deemed "educationally unsuitable" or "pervasively vulgar". Multiple court decisions continue to back the principle that minors can and should be treated differently than adults by our public institutions, including schools.


MYTH: That FCPS lets parents know what specific graphic material is in books so that they can make an informed parenting choice.

FACTS: Everybody agrees that no student should read a book over parental objections - the teacher should find another acceptable book for that student. However FCPS will not disclose specifics of book graphic content to parents. Their attitude is “we know what’s best for your child.” Do they think parents are omniscient or somehow have already read every book? Even Hollywood has a rating system to warn parents about movie content. FCPS seems to think parents don't need to be informed about controversial, graphic and explicit content in school books. If FCPS ran Hollywood their position would be: Parents, if you want to know what graphic sex, violence and vulgarity is in the thousands of movies, you must go see them all yourself.

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#5 STORY

21 July 2003


FCPS accelerates pace on purchases of homosexual fiction books

This time last summer the public became aware FCPS Supt. Domenech was receptive to a homosexual advocacy group and their desire to donate homosexual themed books to FCPS. Fortunately these planned donations have not yet occurred. As part of school board discussions on the matter it was revealed there were already many titles and copies of homosexual themed books in FCPS. PABBIS has done news stories on some of these titles, including explicit books in elementary and middle school.

As part of the investigation into this issue PABBIS discovered that many books with homosexual themes, action and situations in FCPS were not identified as such by the FCPS library catalog.

During the last year FCPS has accelerated its purchases of homosexual fiction. Eleven new titles, all copyrighted in 2002 or 2003, identified by the FCPS library catalog as books with a subject of homosexuality, lesbians, or gay fiction have been acquired by FCPS. And these are only the books identified as such by the FCPS library catalog.

Nobody seems to understand the logic behind the FCPS catalog "subject" listings. Books identified as "lesbians fiction" do not necessarily show up under the subject "gay fiction" or "homosexuality fiction." Books identified as "gay fiction" may or may not show up under "homosexuality fiction." Since fiction books with lesbian, gay or homosexual content might not even show up under any of these subject terms this all might only make sense to the company who made a lot of taxpayer money selling FCPS their expensive library catalog system software. Or it could be simply the way librarians choose to keep the public guessing so that the sheer volume of such material does not appear in any one search.

In addition to acquiring new homosexual fiction, FCPS is also acquiring more copies of the homosexual fiction titles they already have.

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#6 STORY

8 March 2001

On March 8 2001, a parent addressed the Fairfax County Public School Board with the following remarks about books used in the IB program:

Dr. Domenech, Chairman Strauss and members of the School Board. I come before you this evening to call your attention to a serious matter and raise awareness in the community. Can we blindly trust our school faculty and administrators to choose appropriate books for our children? Parents, if you think the answer is "yes," it is time for you to open your eyes. In the 11th grade IB English program at South Lakes High School students are required to read books from a list published by the IB Organization. Apparently, the books are pre-selected by a school administrator and then the students are told what they will be reading for class discussion. The students have been informed that these books have been chosen because they are written by famous international authors. I will describe three of these assigned books of fiction to you so you can know how Fairfax County taxpayer dollars are being spent to influence our children.

The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With the Sea, by Yukio Mishima. This book is about a 12-year old Japanese boy who is able to spy into his widowed mother's bedroom through a hole in the wall. He is able to see her having sex with her sailor boyfriend. The mother makes plans to marry the sailor. The boy and his friends discuss how much they hate "fathers" and they plot to kill the sailor. They experiment on a kitten, torturing and mutilating it. By the end of the book, they have drugged the sailor, brandished a knife and are donning rubber gloves to kill him. The book is full of graphic and vulgar descriptions of sexual acts and violence.

The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende is about a South American family during a revolutionary period. The book contains sickeningly graphic details of sexual acts, rape, physical abuse, torture and killing of animals and people, bestiality (sex with animals), child molestation, drug use, prostitution, and necrophilia (sex with a dead body). This vulgar and perverted content is pervasive throughout the book.

Chronicles of a Death Foretold. This book focuses on murderous revenge. An engaged woman sleeps with another man, thus losing her fiancé, and her two angry brothers plot and carry out the man's murder.

I think we have to question the wisdom and the motivation of any institution or organization which deliberately chooses to not only suggest this material for our children, but actually requires them to read it. Why does the IBO have books like this on the list at all? Even if children were allowed to select alternate books, this still puts the pressure on the student when the adults are the ones being paid to use good judgment in teaching.
Why has Fairfax County school administration invited this influence into our children's schools? What kind of world are our children being prepared for? Are these books a necessary tool? How many of our other IB schools are reading this material, or other selections similar to them? We have IB in middle schools and even elementary. Do they have similar books to read? Is this really EDUCATION? Or is it an attempt to undermine parentally instilled values….or worse, is it the outright mental abuse of children?
Here in Fairfax County, parents need to start asking the tough questions, for the sake of the kids.

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#7 STORY (PART 1)

26 June 2003


ALA Youth Advisory or YA Books

More and more so called YA or Young Adult books are entering K-12 schools. Ask people what age someone must be to be considered a young adult and they usually answer between 16 and 24 years old. Legally, to be an adult, one must be 18 or 21 years old. However the American Library Association (ALA) defines YA books as books for 12-18 year old readers. To the ALA even 12-year olds and young teenagers are "young adults."

The ALA YA Book genre is a way to introduce more explicit and graphic material to children. The ALA is an organization with some extremist positions. They have an official position of being against the removal, restriction, labeling, or placement in another part of the library of any book in response to a book challenge. The ALA's position on books is very similar to their position on porn filters on library computers. They would rather have many children exposed to porn than have one person have to walk a few feet to a non-filtered computer.

Books that Make Parents Blush, a March 11, 2001 article in the Washington Post by Linton Weeks noted YA books "may contain language and situations unsuitable for young readers" and pointed out while movies are rated for sex and violence, these books are not. This article said, "The boundaries between adult fiction and young adult fiction are so fogged over that there is a question whether the term "young adult" means anything." PABBIS believes the ALA definition of "young adult" means "anything goes."

Terms used in the article by Linton Weeks, and in Youth Fiction Takes a Stark, Eerie Turn, a December 17, 1999 The Washington Times article by Julia Duin, to describe YA book content include lust, hatred, horror, darkness, dysfunction, drugs, disease, gruesome death, adult situations, salty language, suicide themes, rape, demons, torture, gangs, mental illness, animal torture, divorce, incest and dismemberment. While these terms accurately describe the content of many YA books, even they aren't fully descriptive of how extreme the content can be in these books. In YA books one also finds pedophilia, oral sex, homosexuality, bestiality, masturbation, porno magazines, parental sexual abuse and prostitution. This content is not just in an occasional or rare YA book but in many books selected each year for the ALA's Best Books for Young Adults list.

Some books with explicit content that won an ALA Best YA Book award are:

Baby Be-Bop - 1996
My Father's Scar - 1997
Tenderness - 1998 (An ALA Top 10 Best YA Book)
The Perks of Being a Wallflower - 2000
Love and Sex: Ten Stories of Truth - 2002
Rainbow Boys - 2002

These books are just a few examples and only the tip of the iceberg of graphic books that win this yearly ALA award. They are highlighted because excerpts from them are available for review on the PABBIS website to provide more insight and details on the specifics of their controversial content.

Graphic violence, smut, vulgarity and indecency are in more and more places in society these days but until recently most people have not been aware of the role of the ALA in promoting and condoning books with this type content for use with children.

The ALA has book categories and awards that help get explicit material to their target audience of 12-18 year olds. ALA "best books" are often selected for use in the K-12 public schools by ALA members in their roles as taxpayer paid employees working within public school systems. These ALA "best books" are then purchased with taxpayer money. The ALA YA label is the first step in accomplishing this. The ALA Best YA Book of the Year is the second step.

To date the most outspoken proponent for use of the YA label or sticker in Fairfax County, even in elementary schools, has been School Board member Cathy Belter who is, surprise, a "professional" librarian. However this is not an unusual case - the ALA mafia is entrenched in public school systems around the country and in many cases are being paid with our tax dollars to bring more explicit and graphic books to our K-12 school children.

Not all members of the ALA are against porn filters on library computers. Not all members of the ALA believe anything goes at any age when it comes to K-12 books. Not all members of the ALA believe no action should ever be taken in response to a book challenge. However the organization these members belong to has these official positions and the membership dues collected go to support these policies and objectives.

A YA book or sticker does mean something - Youth Advisory Book: May contain extreme content not suitable for youth.

The ALA, of course, will express indignation at our viewpoint. However the facts speak clearly - YA ALA designated "best books" have material that would be R-rated in the movies and the ALA says they are good for 12-year old children to read.

THE ALA - HELPING GET AND KEEP EXTREME MATERIAL IN K-12 SCHOOLS

#7 STORY (PART 2)

29 June 2003


More about extreme positions of the ALA

Our last news story explored explicit material, in so called young adult or YA books, the American Library Association (ALA) thinks appropriate for 12-year old children. The ALA believes 12-year old children are ready for sexually graphic and explicit material in fictional books. The ALA defining "young adults" as 12-18 years old is a method they use to expose younger and younger children to more explicit material.

This news story looks closer at what the ALA thinks appropriate for these 12-year old "young adults" in the way of supposedly non-fictional "sexual health" material. This, like the material in YA fictional books, is very explicit.

The ALA Young Adult Library Services Association has a portion of their website devoted to Resources for Teens. In the Sexual Health section, the Sexuality and Sexual Behavior section, and the Relationships section the ALA refers teens to a website named Go Ask Alice . This Go Ask Alice website is hosted by Columbia University.

Some of the information categories on this ALA YA recommended website include the following: Men using vibrators, Virgin woman with rape fantasies?, Bestiality, Cleaning cat ‘o nine tails, Sex with animals and STDs?, Straight man wants penis in mouth, Anal beads, Auto-erotic asphyxiation, Optimizing solo-sex, Objects in anus during sex?, Fingers in anus — Safe?, Anal stimulation ain't just for gay men, Oral sex and ice cubes?, Does a good washing before analingus remove bacteria?, Is blowing air into the vagina dangerous?, What to do with a mouth full of semen?, Do diet and exercise affect the taste of semen?

There are many similarly explicit 'categories' on this website but these are enough to provide adequate insight to exactly what the ALA thinks is appropriate information for children as young as 12-years old.

The ALA is an organization with some very extremist positions. The "sexual health" information the ALA thinks appropriate for 12-year olds speaks for itself. Perhaps the ALA is against internet filters because they might filter out the very sites that the ALA is recommending for children. The Go Ask Alice website is not technically legally obscene, but for the ALA to recommend it for 12-year old children is extreme.

THE ALA - HELPING GET AND KEEP EXTREME MATERIAL IN K-12 SCHOOLS

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#8 STORY

16 May 2002


Town Hall on Book Selection


FCPS held a Town Hall meeting on 2 May 02 to discuss book selection. PABBIS representatives presented both some previously provided and new information and facts about this topic.

Anything goes extremists were out in full force. In addition to the typical name-calling (stupid, anti-intellectual, uneducated, unenlightened, etc.) at the parents, there were insults for our children (mushrooms, etc), and the usual lies (we want to burn the dictionary and Shakespeare, we don't even read the books, etc.). They made fun of the religious beliefs of those citizens who came and expressed such a perspective.

The main anything goes speaker used a loud string of profanity and vulgarity (coc* suck**, motherf***er, etc.) just to show lightning wouldn't strike when certain words were said. "They're just words", he said. What a juvenile way to make a point. Guess it's better than the X-rated movie he might have made his point with. [They're just pictures]. In any case, the anything goes in school books crowd clapped loudly, especially the high school students. Hopefully the speaker is not going to be giving the same talk, encouraging more profanity in the classes, in the halls, and on homework at a school near you.

The same speaker said that no one should be able to tell someone else's child what to read and inanely compared that with going into someone's home and telling them what color paint to use on their walls. We have a NEWS FLASH for this speaker: Your own children can read explicit sex and graphic violence in your own home, but that does not translate into the obligation of taxpayer funded public schools to provide it for you. Choose your own color at the paint store and choose your own books at the bookstore. Leave our kids out of it.

Some (especially one high school student) expressed the view that everyone was into porn, and the world was full of graphic sex and violence and other extreme material... so just get used to it. It is under everyone's bed. More of the same tired old lies and distortions: Nobody uses these books; They are never required; Only a small percentage of the book is offensive, so overall it's all right; "In context" extreme content somehow becomes not offensive.

In preparation for the meeting some FCPS teachers again were sending students to the PABBIS website (even for homework) as part of their classes despite previous FCPS instruction not to do that. Getting students out to the Town Hall meeting to fight for extreme material without limits or consent seemed to be a big goal of some teachers.

It is just "too hard" to disclose to parents upfront what is in these extreme books. Respect and acceptance of those with values, attitudes and beliefs against extreme content did not seem to be part of the FCPS definition or understanding of diversity. The attitude conveyed was hostile and intolerant and one that wants to force certain beliefs on others. They said you shouldn't even have a right to complain about books.

Their BOTTOM LINE seemed to be: Extreme material - we like it. You have to live with it and our values. We can't be bothered to even warn you when it's coming. Tough. Oral sex in middle school books and the like - get used to it. Nothing is too extreme at any age.

According to an ABC 7 television report of the meeting, an unnamed school official said there are no plans to [modify the selection process]. How did the two school officials (Nancy Sprague and Maribeth Luftglass), who conducted the Town Hall, reach that decision? Why even bother to have a Town Hall if that was already the case? Or was the decision reached on the spot, and if so, based on what? And why are over 1500 citizens being ignored?

Opposing the "anything goes, force-their-beliefs-on-your-children" extremists were speakers who asked for age-appropriate Standards of Decency and Upfront Informed Parental Consent. They explained why giving extreme material to other's minor children is in conflict with parental rights and values. They asked that the FCPS and the Fairfax County School Board not ignore the over 1500 citizens who requested Standards of Decency. You can read some of their speeches by clicking Townhallspeeches2may02.html. Note the teacher who provides a very revealing perspective in her comments.

The week prior to the Town Hall meeting only two school board members voted to keep a book with extremely graphic material [Gates of Fire] out of the middle schools. The others thought it would be ok there -- your children are 12-years old and ready for extreme reading. Why is the FCPS and School Board doing this?

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#9 STORY

16 September 2002


Fairfax County Council of PTA's washes its hands on issue of graphic material in FCPS books


PABBIS briefed the Fairfax County Council of PTA's (FCCPTA) on 3 June 2002. As part of this briefing PABBIS asked the FCCPTA 10 specific questions and also asked that a blatant lie in a PTA Newsletter be corrected. The FCCPTA has ignored all of the questions and refuses to correct the lie. The only FCCPTA response has been the issuing of a bureaucratically worded resolution, in their September 2002 Newsletter, mostly just a restatement of current FCPS regulations.

The FCCPTA is now officially aware there are books with oral sex in FCPS middle school libraries, books with descriptions of masturbation in elementary schools for 2nd and 3rd graders to read, and many other books with extreme material in the classroom and library. They are aware and seemingly unconcerned.

The FCCPTA resolution states:
"..materials.. in FCPS libraries are carefully chosen by our education professionals... in accordance with policies and procedures set forth in regulations.."

The FCCPTA support of "our education professionals" choice of this material is very troubling and is in direct contradiction with stated PTA national objectives. Is this type of material in line with securing the "highest advantages" of "mental, social and spiritual education", "raising the standards of home life", and in bringing "into closer relation the home and school"? Guess it depends on the definition of "advantage", "raising", "education", "relation" and other terms!

The definition of terms used by "educational professionals" and PTA policy wonks is not important. What is important to parents is that the PTA leadership in Fairfax County is now officially on record as supporting extreme and age-inappropriate literature.

The uncorrected lie:

A Herndon HS PTA newsletter article (by Joette Bailey of the English department) said PABBIS wants to restrict or eliminate from the curriculum Ethan Fromme, Invisible Man, The Grapes of Wrath, The Great Gatsby and Elements of Literature. All lies.

In February 2002 PABBIS informed Ms. Vosburgh (Herndon PTA president) about the matter and asked her to publish a retraction. One month later PABBIS also informed the FCCPTA about the matter and noted they had not yet responded. The issue was brought up again in the 3 June briefing. To date, no answer from anyone.

As a side note, in her article Joette Bailey complained about having to read books that are used in the curriculum. Amazing! It is a teacher's taxpayer funded job to do this. How much time do teachers think parents have to read all the material?

The 10 questions the FCCPTA hasn't answered:

1 - Are there differences between minor children and adults?
2 - Are there differences between public libraries and public school libraries?
3 - Virginia state law requires that school districts establish a book challenge process. Are you against this law?
4 - Are a family's values, beliefs and rights important in the schools?
5 - The Pillars of the Earth was once used in 9th grade classes. It has extremely graphic detailed descriptions of sex and violence such as a character requiring violence to become sexually excited, oral sex, multiple rapes, gang rapes, tortures, a boy's earlobe being cut off while he was forced to watch his sister being raped by two men, and other extreme material. Some school board members didn't think that the book, when viewed as a whole, was legally obscene and therefore they thought it was acceptable in the schools. As PABBIS has said before, many parent's standards on reading material for their children are quite a bit higher than "not legally obscene". The unabridged audio version of this book was quietly removed from Rocky Run Middle School by FCPS after a challenge was submitted and now some parents seem to want this book placed back. Does your organization want this book placed back in middle school?
6 - Druids, a book with graphic descriptions of sex, oral sex, "sex magic" rituals, and the main character wanting to rape was in our middle schools. After it was challenged, FCPS voluntarily removed it from middle school. Now some parents want it placed back in middle school. Does your organization want this book placed back in middle school?
7 - Do you support a book with sexual and violent passages including the detailed description of a man in a sexual/strangulation scene with a six-year old girl, and other extreme content as required HS English reading?
8 - Do you support oral sex in middle school books?
9 - Do you support books with descriptions of masturbation in ES libraries that 2nd and 3rd graders can read?
10 - Baby Be-bop, a book with homosexual oral sex is in our MS libraries - Do the Fairfax county PTA's think it should be removed, yes or no?


Although they didn't answer these 10 questions, PABBIS has some MORE QUESTIONS FOR THE FCCPTA:

PTA values are not the same as Hollywood values - are they? How do you feel about the recent FCPS move to allow R-rated movies in school? Will you wash your hands on that issue also?

PTA objectives (supposedly) are:

- To promote the welfare of children and youth in home, school, community and place of worship.
- To raise the standards of home life.
- To secure adequate laws for the care and protection of children and youth.
- To bring into closer relation the home and school, that parents and teachers may cooperate intelligently in the education of children and youth.
- To develop between educators and the general public such united efforts as will secure for all children and youth the highest advantages in physical, mental, social and spiritual education.


Is your washing your hands on this matter consistent with PTA objectives?


NOTE to FCCPTA: The 'P' in PTA should be for all parents - not just those who think graphic sex and violence are acceptable. Your 'silence' on this matter sends a very loud and clear message.

NOTE TO PARENTS IN FAIRFAX COUNTY AND AROUND THE COUNTRY: Find out what your local PTA leadership thinks of graphic material in K-12 books. According to ptotoday.com, on average, $850 of a schools dues go to support state and national PTA leadership. The site also says "schools are choosing to leave the PTA rather than support locally unpopular political stances" and that "while the PTA claims that its political role is central to its mission and has been for more than a century, many local units don't see the value."

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#10 STORY

15 November 2002


PABBIS NEWS - Usual News, Ironic News, Good News, Old News, Why are we surprised about this News, and Book challenge update News


Usual News - Or, there he goes again. Stu Gibson has proposed limiting the right to challenge books to certain citizens with special "standing." In a 11 Nov 2002 School Board Working session this issue was discussed. Stu Gibson said he initiated this proposal because earlier this year a parent whose FCPS children were not yet in high school had challenged a book that was in high school. While it was never defined exactly what "standing" would be required to challenge a book it is not surprising to us that Mr. Gibson would try to suppress the right of citizens to formally complain about his "anything goes at any age" viewpoint on school books. In the meeting he actually equated a public school library for children with a public library and seemed to think that if a book was not in a public school library that there would be no more access to that book at all. He seemed to have forgotten about public libraries, bookstores and the like.

In another inexplicable statement Gibson indicated that the founding fathers would have supported "anything goes at any age" in public school libraries. PABBIS has a very hard time envisioning the founding fathers fighting for the right to keep books with things like oral sex in our public schools. Not to mention purchasing them with taxpayer money. Maybe Gibson forgot that in the late 1700's public schools didn't even exist.

PABBIS thinks creating a very small "special" class of citizens who are the only ones empowered to challenge a book is a move away from the so-called accountability that the School Board is always talking about. It sounds like Stalinism, where certain citizens had less rights than others, but everyone was supposedly equal. It is also very likely illegal since Virginia Law 22.1-253.13:7 requires local school boards to set up procedures for challenges "giving consideration to the views of teachers, parents, and other concerned citizens." It does not say "special" citizens, "certain citizens", or citizens "deemed worthy by Mr. Gibson."

While many school board members indicated [for various reasons] they had problems with a special class of citizen "standing", four others [Frye, Heastie, Smith and Strauss] clearly voiced support for the proposal. Very scary. Hmmm, wonder if people without "standing" will be able to donate books to the FCPS.

Ironic News - A letter from School Board member Robert Frye was published in the Connection newspapers on 6 Nov 2002. In the letter [amongst some other lies he told] Frye said it was a lie that "...our school system is forcing books with extreme content, vulgarity, graphic sex and violence on our students and taking away parent participation in the selection of books to be used in our schools. The truth is that the books used in Fairfax County Public Schools are age appropriate, support the approved curriculum...."

The very next day during citizen participation at the school board meeting, an angry mother read sexually explicit scenes from "A Handmaid's Tale", a book that was REQUIRED reading in a high school English class, and demanded that the school board take action. See the excerpts. This book is very explicit and vulgar. Guess Mr Frye thinks there is some difference between REQUIRED and forced.

Despite all of Stu Gibson's baloney about the FCPS sometimes taking action on a book complaint without an official challenge we bet the only action this mother gets is the usual "tough luck" letter (with challenge form attached). Perhaps Dr. Domenech will even sign the letter himself to show his high level personal concern. We doubt that this mother will find comfort in the fact that if her challenge is successful her child will already be done with this school year and this book assignment long past.

Good News - PABBIS has learned that FCPS removed the book Sari Says that we reported about in our last News Story. While this is good news we wonder who approved this extreme book for our schools in the first place. Will Dr. Domenech ever explain to citizens why it was selected and purchased? Or does accountability only apply to some things?

Old News - The Fall 2002 Mediagram of the Virginia Educational Media Association (VEMA) reported on a local chapter meeting at Centreville High School on April 6 2002. The Mediagram says, "Their two most popular sessions for Fall showcases were authors Laura Elliott (Under the War Torn Sky) and John Gilstrap (PABBIS: The Worst Obscenity of All)."

Guess some folks are under the wrong impression that the f-word, oral sex, pedophilia and other extreme material in books are something they might be concerned about. But no, it seems VEMA thinks it is the P-word. Oh nooooo, it's the P-word. Unfortunately for those who do not have an "anything goes at any age" viewpoint on school books many members of VEMA are working for FCPS. They obviously have a biased viewpoint when sitting on a book selection or reconsideration committee. Which leads to our next story.....

Why are we surprised about this News - PABBIS learned, from discussion at the 11 Nov 02 school board session, that the FCCPTA [see 16 Sep 2002 PABBIS News] who has the right to appoint a representative parent to the department review committee for challenged books is up to no good. The FCCPTA is applying a litmus test to all parents they are considering for appointment. PABBIS has heard they are even asking potential appointees to sign a statement agreeing to support [vote for] the FCCPTA position of "anything goes at any age"! Unbelievable!

In our previous news story on the FCCPTA we asked them: "Is your washing your hands on this matter consistent with PTA objectives?" Asking their appointees to sign a statement saying they will support the use of a book in school, that they are supposedly on a committee to review, BEFORE THEY HAVE EVEN READ THE BOOK OR EVEN KNOW WHAT BOOK IT IS, is clearly an FCCPTA position directly in conflict with the national PTA organizations stated objectives. Wonder if Stu Gibson will be concerned about this or if the FCCPTA reps have "standing"?

Book challenge update News - Stories containing misinformation about the 23 books challenged [see 18 Sep 2002 PABBIS News] in FCPS abound. We will provide an accurate update on this challenge as soon as we are able. The challengers are currently in the middle of the bureaucratic quagmire and are unable to confirm or deny the constantly changing number of challenges that the FCPS staff keeps reporting. However, they do note that the number of challenges that reaches the school board is also dependent on how the departmental committee and schools below the school board handle them.

In the past, the department committee has just rubber stamped "disagree" on every challenge and sent them on to the school board. Basically, no value added. As far as PABBIS can determine only one voting member ever agreed with a challenger. Based on this track record and the litmus test that the FCCPTA is now applying, it is unlikely that things will be any different this time. This committee should be dissolved and replaced with the principals of the schools that the books are in so their local customers [parents] will know where their local principal stands. Principals of the schools the books are in certainly have a lot more "standing" then biased members of organizations who are on record as being against any attempt at removal of books from any school library or curriculum or even restriction, labeling or placement in another part of the library. Question for Stu Gibson: Why would someone who is a member of an organization that has an "anything goes at any age" position have 'standing'? is it because this is the "correct standing", one that you [and the founding fathers, of course] support?

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