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Dr. Bryan Bowles Davis School District 45 East State Street P.O. Box 588 Farmington, Utah
Dr. Bryan Bowles Davis School District 45 East State Street P.O. Box 588 Farmington, Utah

Dr. Bryan Bowles Davis School District 45 East State Street P.O. Box 588 Farmington, Utah 84025 bbowles@dsdmail.net

Dear Superintendent Bowles,

Utah 84025 bbowles@dsdmail.net Dear Superintendent Bowles, June 14, 2012 We are writing to express c oncern

June 14, 2012

We are writing to express concern about the removal of In Our Mothers’ House by Patricia Polacco from libraries shelves in the Davis School District and the decision to restrict access to the book. We understand these actions were taken in response to objections to the book’s depiction of a non-traditional family.

The First Amendment precludes public officials from suppressing ideas simply because

some people find them offensive or controversial. The Supreme Court has cautioned that school officials "may not remove books from library shelves simply because they dislike the ideas contained in those books and seek by their removal to ‘prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion.’" Board of Education v. Pico, 457 U.S. 853, 872 (1982)(plurality opinion). This constitutional duty applies with particular force in the school library, which, unlike the classroom, has "a

special role

topics." Campbell v. St. Tammany Parish School Board, 64 F. 3d 184, 190 (5th Cir.

as

a place where students may freely and voluntarily explore diverse

1995).

In Our Mother’s House is a true story about children who grew up in a multi-racial family with two mothers. School Library Journal called it a “gem of a book” which “illustrates how love makes a family, even if it's not a traditional one.” A Stratford Library Association Review called it “a model of inclusiveness for children” which “can help youngsters better understand their world.” Whatever views may exist about such non-traditional families, they are part of the fabric of almost every community, including the school where the complaint was brought.

There is no valid argument that the book “advocates homosexuality” any more than a book about the hardships of life on a farm discourages farming, or a book about a courageous dog advocates dog ownership. Nor is there a valid claim that removal of In Our Mothers’ House is justifiable under state law. First, state law must be applied consistent with constitutional demands and, in the event of a conflict, the constitutional mandate prevails. Second, the book was not being used as an instructional material in the schools, and no one was required to read it.

Parents who object to the book could easily supervise their children’s reading choices. However, restricting student access violates the rights of children whose parents want their children to be taught tolerance and respect for diversity and diminishes the education value of the library whose primary role is to allow students to make choices

according to their own interests, experiences, and family values.

acceding to any demand to remove material potentially exposes the school to multiple,

possibly conflicting demands, from others seeking accommodation for different views and beliefs. Decisions about school materials should be made for sound educational reasons, not because some people do or do not agree with the content.

As a practical matter,

We strongly urge you to restore full access to In Our Mothers’ House in school libraries throughout Davis County. Those who object to this book are entitled to their view, but they may not impose it on others. Any other decision threatens the principle that is essential to individual freedom, democracy, and a good education: the right to read, inquire, question, and think for ourselves.

If we can be of assistance in this matter, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Sincerely,

matte r, please do not hesitate to contact us. Sincerely, Joan Bertin Executive Director National Coalition

Joan Bertin Executive Director National Coalition Against Censorship

Executive Director National Coalition Against Censorship Chris Finan President American Booksellers Foundation for

Chris Finan President American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression