Letter: Amy Paul, Leesburg

Editor: Francine Works makes a number of false statements in her Nov. 7 Letter to the Editor that need to be addressed and corrected.

1. The “Diversity Books” purchased by LCPS that are being protested by hundreds of parents are not shelved randomly in the public school libraries, as Francine stated.  They were delivered directly to classrooms. This is an important detail. LCPS clearly wanted to bypass the library and place these books right in classrooms where there would be a greater chance of having them picked up and read.

2. The books in question are not “great literature.”  We are not talking about Shakespeare, Mark Twain or “To Kill a Mockingbird.”   We’re not talking about classics that deal discretely and carefully with weighty issues. What we are talking about are books that contain graphic and gratuitous sexual descriptions of predatory adult/child sex, rape, and profanity aimed at arousing the reader. If one’s idea of “great literature” is Joan Collins or  “Fifty Shades of Grey,” then these books would certainly fit the bill. 

3. Yes, there’s provocative content in Shakespeare’s plays – if one understands ribald humor in obsolete Old English slang.  But the books in dispute here contain graphic content in very clear modern English that is outside the bounds of what’s allowed to be discussed in FLE as well as profanity not allowed to be used in LCPS classrooms. 

4. The books were not selected “with great thought and care.”  Instead, LCPS simply requested “diversity books” from a vendor, placed a $1.9 million order, and never read, reviewed or vetted any of the books upon delivery.  Teachers received shipments of the books right before the start of school and were ordered to put them on their shelves. 

5. The only point Francine got right is that it’s not the job of LCPS schools to parent my children.  I completely agree.  LCPS has overstepped its bounds.  I’m the one who should teach my kids about sex.  I’m the one who should decide at what age they are ready to discuss controversial topics. And I’m the one who’s sitting here wondering why LCPS thinks it has the right to usurp parental rights and put books aimed at sexualizing children right in their classrooms and expose them to adult/child sex, rape and profanity in the name of “diversity.”

Amy Paul, Leesburg

14 thoughts on “Letter: Amy Paul, Leesburg

  • 2019-11-11 at 6:03 pm
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    I find little to add to this succinct, factual and common sense response by Ms. Paul.

  • 2019-11-12 at 5:27 pm
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    But the bottom line is that LCPS doesn’t care what anybody thinks and they aren’t going to change no matter who protests. The state of education is the Education State that knows better than parents what their children should learn.

    • 2019-11-13 at 7:07 am
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      I see the issue a bit differently – why do you get to decide what my children should read and learn. If I want them to be aware that their are all sorts of people in the world, why do you get to decide that they cannot?

      • 2019-11-13 at 4:26 pm
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        LCPS is pushing obscene content onto kids. We have age limits for all kinds of things because there is universal recognition that human beings need to be of a certain age before they are mature enough to be exposed to it. I don’t care if you are an alcoholic and want your 6 year old to drink beer instead of milk at lunch during school. Give your kids a 6-pack of smut when they get home.

  • 2019-11-13 at 5:01 pm
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    YourNeighbor, perhaps my letter wasn’t clear enough. I don’t get to decide what your children read and learn. LCPS does. And they spent $1.9 million on books they didn’t read or review and put them directly on shelves in the classrooms. All I’d like is for LCPS to move them out of the classrooms and onto the shelves in the library. But they refuse. So your children are going to be learning a lot about other people in this world, in very graphic detail I might add.

    • 2019-11-13 at 7:21 pm
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      Amy – they might be learning about all kinds of people and situations – if they read the books – but, what David says is that they are being forced to read them – this is simply another unfounded attack

  • 2019-11-13 at 5:15 pm
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    THANK YOU Amy Paul of Leesburg for your well-written letter!!! I have been following this decision by LCPS with great concern and read some of the excerpts from the books in question and very much so agree with your response here!

  • 2019-11-13 at 8:32 pm
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    my post got cut off

    David attacks the schools with a ridiculous position – that kids are being force to read the books you object to and you make one a well when you write that your main concern is what shelf they are on – that is not honest – you are trying to say that these are instruction manuals meant to recruit children to a lifestyle – but they are simply books

  • 2019-11-14 at 10:17 am
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    Point out where I said kids are “forced” to read the books. I said “pushed.” By putting these books in classroom and general libraries, LCPS is pushing the content on the kids. Why is LCPS buying them if they don’t expect anyone to read them? These books shouldn’t be available at all to any child while attending school. If you want them on your bookshelf at home, go ahead and buy them.

  • 2019-11-14 at 10:51 am
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    Keep reading from them at school board meetings. Force the SB to turn off the audio on their streaming of the meeting.

  • 2019-11-14 at 12:05 pm
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    YourNeighbor: Here is the very real problem with LCPS putting these books directly into classrooms. Just as there was no communication with parents, there’s also been no communication with staff. A box shows up at the classroom and teachers are told to put the books on shelves. These books now have tacit and implied priority over books kids might choose in the main library. Also, every teacher in every classroom in every school is managing them differently. There’s no protocol. Some of the 9th grade titles: “Cub” (sexually explicit content, two adult men kiss a 17 year old boy at the same time, one of them sexually assaults the teen), “The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue” (male homosexual romance with explicit content), and “Beyond Magenta” (sexually explicit content, peer-on-peer child sexual abuse is normalized; boy describes performing oral sex when he was six years old). I just don’t see the literary value of having these books on the shelves of classrooms. And while these titles are all LGBTQ-focused, I don’t want any sexually-explicit content (hetero or homo) in classrooms. Aren’t kids surrounded by enough sexual messaging all day long via TV, YouTube and every other place?

  • 2019-11-17 at 9:05 pm
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    Amy Paul is correct in saying that I didn’t mention that the books under discussion are in the classroom. My apologies. My experience as a parent of 4 children, 3 of whom have graduated, is that English classrooms have books on their shelves available for students to read during free reading time, assigned reading times, or whatever the teacher in the room calls it. These books are in no way FORCED on any student. They are made available to them. These books are not required reading but are there for students who choose to read them.
    If parents are really offended by the use of profanity in our schools I would suggest they take a walk in our hallways or spend time in our cafeterias. While we may not want our children to use profanity they are surrounded by it daily. They are not in a bubble. Nor should they be placed in one. Mr. Henshaw, another resident who is upset by what I wrote suggests librarians devise a way to alert parents when books with “graphic” content are checked out; alert by email. Well that is absurd. If parents are that concerned check your student’s backpack when they get home. Or better yet follow them to school and monitor them. Don’t let your views deprive students the freedom of choice.

    • 2019-11-18 at 10:41 am
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      I have also had two children graduate from LCPS. And I’m only too well aware that our children are not in a bubble. The culture is hitting them hard with sexual messaging all day long. But that doesn’t mean I throw up my hands and say there’s nothing I can do about it. What is your point about kids using profanity at school? That may be a reality, but it doesn’t make it acceptable. And if I were a teacher or administrator you can bet I’d be handing out in-school detentions for it. We either have rules about profanity or we don’t. We either have high expectations for students or we don’t. Students do not currently have “freedom of choice” to watch R-rated movies in LCPS classrooms. So why do we have books that describe R-rated content in graphic detail of adult-on-minor sex, etc… in our classrooms? Again, I am not referring to bawdy one-liners in Shakespeare. I am referring to the specific titles I listed in my prior comment about books from the Diversity collection that contain explicit sexual content. Are you OK with a 14-year old reading about adult-on-minor sex, a six-year old boy describing fellatio, etc…? I am not.

  • 2019-11-23 at 1:48 pm
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    Thank you Ms. Paul for bring common sense and background on the issue to us.

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