Letter: Mark Henshaw, Leesburg

Editor:  I am pleased to see that Ms. Francine Works finally admitted the real purpose behind the recent move to put LGBTQ-themed books in LCPS classrooms without prior announcement or debate.

She says in her Nov. 30 letter, “The curriculum offered in our school system is biased toward the experience of those in power. Therefore, to censor content particularly LGBTQ+ content and of LGBTQ+ writers/sources, is exercising discriminationfrom those in power by not allowing these voices the focus and space that they are long overdue.” She doesn’t claim that it’s about educating children. Instead, it’s about a small group of educators using LCPS to further a socialjustice agenda.

As a professional author, I do not favor censorship—on that point, Ms. Works has been attacking a straw man. I have no problem with giving LGBTQ artists and authors “space and focus” as their works may merit. But I have a serious problem when a small group decides behind closed doors that that “space” must be the public school system.

The question is not whether the books themselves have literary or cultural merit;the question iswhether the public schools are the appropriate place for these particular books to be promoted.That was the debate that LCPS should have allowed to take place.

That LCPS instead pushed forward in secret suggests that proponents wanted to ensure that no parents would stand in the way of their social justice agenda. And given Ms. Works’ persistent objections to my proposal that LCPS use technology to keep interested parents informed when their children want to access these controversial materials suggests that she and her allies are determined to keep the field clear of interference in their moral crusade to instill their personal moral values in their students, parents’ opinions or objections notwithstanding.

Mark Henshaw, Leesburg

One thought on “Letter: Mark Henshaw, Leesburg

  • 2019-12-09 at 3:55 pm

    The books in question are not specifically there for educational purposes. They are provided to those who are interested in reading. That’s what makes them different from required reading but reading for learning, pleasure, and fun. I never said the books’ sole purpose was for education. If the people who are against these books have this idea in their heads, they are sorely mistaken, uniformed, and frankly ignorant. Libraries in schools and in public libraries are not there just to provide a space to find research materials or instructional guides. Libraries in our public schools and in our County are there to give students who are interested in reading a place to find what an English teacher friend of mine would call, “their perfect book”. Students don’t just peruse the shelves for assignments but also to find something to read in their free time; for fun. This nonsense about promoting a social justice agenda is just that, nonsense.

    Francine Works
    Leesburg VA

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