During a 45-minute public comment period, parents weighed in at a May 11 local school board meeting with poster-sized notecards to read sexually graphic passages from books purchased as a result of the Diversity Library school initiative started in Loudoun County, Virginia. Many parents showed up to push back against Critical Race Theory(CRT) and explicit sexual content in the classrooms there.
The 2019 program was part of a $1.8 million grant program distributing funding to 24 non-profits "with missions ranging from preventing teen suicide to feeding the hungry, to spreading English literacy." The grant cycle was the largest funding program ever adopted in the county's history.
The video below shows one of the mothers reading a passage from the book called "Monday's Not Coming," a Young Adult book by Tiffany D. Jackson that contains graphic depictions of abuse, sexual abuse, and children paying others to do their homework with sexual favors. Another reads from a book called "#MurderTrending" that speaks graphically about teenagers engaging in oral sex.
According to an Oct. 11, 2019, Loudon Times-Mirror article, the implementation of the diverse classroom libraries material began in the fall of 2019. The English/Language Arts page for the program provides a full list, with summary notations of the materials for grades K-12 and states the following:
"The diverse classroom libraries were created through the collaboration of LCPS teachers, librarians, administrators, and classroom book collection specialist teams trained to identify culturally responsive and diverse texts in accordance to LCPS School Board Policy 5-7 Regulation, Selection, and Review of Instructional Materials. "
Review Criteria for LPCS Diversity Classroom Libraries
The materials seek to ensure that the county's "classroom and school libraries reflect our values and contribute to developing student identities; therefore, our collections must reflect and honor our student population and those around them."
Parents also spoke at the September 24, 2019 meeting to sound their alarm over the materials in the diversity program. As was seen in the May 11 meeting, the September 2019 meeting also addressed Critical Race Theory or "diversity and equity" content alongside community concerns over explicit sexual content in the diversity school libraries.
One parent told the board that "the remainder of her speech is not for children's ears. In fact, it isn't suitable for any of us, but we have to hear this because our kids are reading it in the schools." At about the 58-minute mark, a parent stands up to speak about the books being purchased for school libraries, and she reads a passage of one of the books called "Gravity" that is available for Ninth Graders in the district. Her speech can be heard below:
A second parent asks some penetrating questions about the inclusion of the materials and wonders why parents were not asked to engage in the process of selection:
Quoted in the October 2019 article is the following citation from a book available to seventh graders from attendee Natassia Grover. The book is called “Weird Girl and What’s His Name” by Meagan Brothers. The article states that Grover describes it "as portraying a relationship between a teenage boy and his middle-aged employer as 'one of love, not abuse.'”
“Erotic descriptions of sexual activity, including fondling, a kissing scene between three men, orgasms, masturbation, and sexual intercourse are also included in the diverse classroom libraries,” Grover added. “Students are being deliberately exposed to this stuff. You have a duty to remove it.”
A letter written by American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia Executive Director Claire Guthrie Gastañaga to Superintendent Eric Williams and School Board Chairman Jeff Morse (Dulles District) rejected the suggestions to remove such books from the school libraries. One of the paragraphs in the letter states the following:
Claire Guthrie Gastañaga Oct. 2, 2019 Letter/To Superintendent of Schools/Loudon County
Notably, in 2016, some school districts in Virginia removed the Classic books "To Kill a Mockingbird" and "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" from classrooms. Fox News' Tucker Carlson speaks about the contradictory policies of the Loudoun County School District in the video clip below. Reportedly, Loudoun County still assigns "To Kill a Mockingbird" in its schools:
At the May 11 meeting, a teacher opened her comments by saying that it is "funny how people are afraid of their children picking up a book voluntarily. It's funny how they are so afraid of their children seeing another view of sexuality, gender, or religion. But those same people have no problem subjecting the children of others to homophobic, Islamic, and racist slurs.
Fight For Schools has played an integral part in helping to expose what they feel are "divisive" curriculum choices in the Loudoun County schools. The organization focused on the Loudoun County schools because it says that the county's schools have become a "national story for its implementation of critical race theory. This divisive experiment has resulted in attempts to silence dissent, it has divided the community, and created a culture of bullying in students, teachers, school administrators, and school board members," according to their Loudoun County Project page.
They have actively pursued a school board recall because six of its members allegedly participated in a 2021 "private Facebook group that planned to target parents for opposing critical race theory in the school system." And, allegedly, the school administration also sent out public statements to "silence opposition." One of their ads is featured below:
Critical Race Theory is becoming a flashpoint for both parents and legislators across the country. UncoverDC wrote a comprehensive article on the subject in April featuring parent activists in Williamson County, TN, who are fighting to keep the curriculum out of the schools there. The activism was, in part, responsible for legislation, HB580, banning it in Tennessee schools. House Republicans also sponsored recent legislation to defund CRT in schools at the federal level, as reported by UncoverDC on May 12.
Writer, filmmaker, and senior fellow at Manhattan Institute, Christopher Rufo has covered CRT extensively and just recently posted a CRT legislation tracker page that shows which legislatures in the U.S. have "introduced legislation to prohibit public schools and state agencies from promoting race essentialism, collective guilt, and state-sanctioned racism."