Books

Central Bucks school board linked to the Family Research Council is considering banning LGBTQ books

Central Bucks has links with anti-LGBTQ Christian nationalist group

District parent Anusha Viswanathan said the influence of the Independence Law Center contradicts repeated claims by district officials that these policies are intended to create “neutrality” in classrooms.

“It was always a hoax, but it has been proven beyond doubt,” Viswanathan said. “This has never been about ‘neutrality.’ It has always been about extremism.”

The final policy is more restrictive than previous versions. It eliminates the requirement to review books in their entirety, the evaluation of “literary merit,” and the consultation of specific professional reviews and journals such as Kirkus Reviews and School Library Journal to determine suitability for readers.

It defines in more detail what would be considered “inappropriate” content, including definitions of “visually implied depictions of sexual acts” and “implied nudity.”

Sharon Ward, senior policy counsel for the Education Law Center, said “the policy would allow the district to look at just the small amount of sexual content that might be in a book and ban the book or remove it based on that.”

In an email to parents sent Friday, district officials defended the policy updates, also called the “administrative regulation,” or AR.

“There has been much speculation that Policy 109.2 would constitute a ‘book ban’ or was intended to remove books about LBGTQ+ stories and genres. We are sharing this communication so you can read the policy as enacted and the AR as now finalized and see for yourself , that none of these things are true,” the district’s email said.

The Pennsylvania Family Institute’s website says, “The family begins with a healthy marriage between a man and a woman who raise their children in an intentional and loving home.”

The Independence Law Center and the Pennsylvania Family Institute did not respond to WHYY News’ requests for comment.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups in the US, says the FRC’s specialty is in “defaming LGBTQ people” and falsely associating LGBTQ people with pedophilia.

“While activists like to argue that pedophilia is an entirely separate orientation from homosexuality, evidence shows a disproportionate overlap between the two … It is a homosexual problem,” FRC president Tony Perkins wrote on the FRC’s website in 2010.

Seidel, of Americans United for Separation of Church & State, which has investigated the FRC’s presence in the United States, said the organization is a “complex, large and shadowy network” that “has rungs all the way up into the conservative Trump administration, throughout the way down in our school boards.”

“It is designed and dedicated to making America a Christian nation,” Seidel said. “It is fundamentally at odds with our constitutional promise of a government that belongs to ‘we the people.’ They want a government that belongs to ‘we the conservative Christians.’

Seidel said the library’s book policy is “about dehumanizing LGBTQ people and society. It’s about suggesting they don’t exist,” which aligns with the FRC’s mission.

Central Bucks, the fourth-largest district in Pennsylvania, is under investigation by the U.S. Department of Education after the ACLU of Pennsylvania alleged it created a hostile learning environment for LBGTQ youth.

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