In Temporary Win, Mom Gets Dirty Books Removed From School Libraries

Northern Virginia remains a battleground for parents and school boards over the curriculum that should be taught in public schools. Fairfax County Public Schools has recently published books that depict explicit sex between children, and adults.
Fairfax County mother Stacy Langton made headlines when she read aloud from and displayed images from two books, Gender Queer, by Maia Kobabe, and Lawn Boy, by Jonathan Evison during a school board meeting.

Langton said that although the books were temporarily removed from the school libraries, she was still concerned about the long-term effects on children by the disturbing images.

You will accidentally let your child find this and then open it up. She says that once you see it, you won't be able to stop looking at these images.

Langton joins The Daily Signal Podcast for a discussion about the fateful school board meeting as well as the wider issue of such books being available in public school libraries.

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Listen to the podcast or read the slightly edited transcript.

Doug Blair: Today's guest is Stacy Langton from Fairfax County Virginia. She went before her school board to complain about the board's allowing books that contained pedophilic and sexually explicit content. Stacy, welcome on the show.

Stacy Langton : Thank you for having me.

Blair: Of course. Before we go to the school board meeting, I'd like to know more about the books you objected at the school board meeting.

Langton: I suppose you're asking me how I became aware of them? It's because I didn't know about it. These are the kinds of things I don't know of any parents that would be able to find out. When was the last time you went into your child's school library? That's something I have never done before.

It was a matter of awareness and seeing the videos of other parent school board meetings that were going viral.

Three weeks ago, I first saw the video. I think it was Hudson, Ohio outside of Akron. It was a sexually explicit high school literature text book. It also contained very inappropriate assignments. The mayor said that parents had figured it out, or something. This is pornography. I've spoken to a judge. You have two options: you can resign, or you could be charged with a crime.

That story made me think Wow. What's the matter? It's insane. You just kind of move on with your day. I am a busy mom. I had six children and didn't really think about it. Then, maybe two to three days later, another story comes along. This second story was that of the mom who attended her school board in Leander Texas.

This mom did more than I did, because she brought the books. That was how I got my titles. She named the books, showed me the books and then she put the titles up. They gave her more time. Fairfax only gives us two minutes. She was only allowed three minutes. She read much more from that book. It was quite cringe-inducing. This poor woman was truly a pain to listen to.

I thought, "This is just banal." What's the matter? This is the second. This is the second one.

Fairfax County's school has given laptops to our children. So I asked my son, "Can we enter this author's name into the library interface?" He said yes, and we entered it. They both came up. I thought, "Wow, theyre there." It's quite strange.

And I thought, "Well, I'm not going to believe her." I have to go and get them. It's not going to be halfpardoned the pun. I wasnt intending it that way but it was too late. It came out of me and I thought, "Oh, that was stupid." But it is true. That was literally all I had to say.

It is worse than you ever imagined. It's a rude awakening. It was a slap in the face. It literally destroyed my day. I thought, "Well, I must go and speak because I didn't know this was happening." And I believe Im a very involved mom in my children's lives. So I decided to sign up for the board meeting.

Blair: These books were targeted at high schoolers or younger children? These books were available for what ages in Fairfax County Public School Libraries.

Langton, Yes, that's right. We are referring to access and the age range of access. My kids school is a high school so it's ninth-12th grade. It was also available in the system at several schools near me. Robinson Secondary School, which is a combination middle school/highschool, is one example. It's available at that school. Now you can get down to seventh and eighth grades, so it's even younger.

This is also important when it comes to the physical location of books in the library. A large display was displayed down the middle walkway. The display had many titles, and one book was among them. It was obvious from the dust jackets that similar material is likely in some of those books. However, I was not there to go through each book one by one.

I haven't done that. But the Kobabe book is an illustrated book. It is also a graphic novel. This is fancy for comic book. I was shocked when the librarian told me that it wasn't there. It shouldn't be on this shelf, but it is.

This means that your little boy's favorite books are DC Comics, Marvel Comics and The Avengers. And, oh, there is also Batman and Robin. You will accidentally let your child find this book and then open it up. These images will never go away once you've seen them.

Blair: Right. That's interesting. It sounds like they weren't hiding it in a corner. It was easily accessible. It wasn't something you could just find it. It was.

Langton: Yes. They were proud of their display. They are ashamed of it.

Blair: Right. Now that we have some background information, could you briefly describe the school board meeting to our listeners who haven't seen the video? What was the outcome of that meeting?

Langton: I read the material aloud, and then I showed the images the board. After I had done that well, one of the board members interrupted me and said, Maam! There are children in this room. Langton: That was my thought. Thank you for making my point.

As I continued to say where the materials were located, another member of the board interrupted me and said, Maam! It's for high school students. You are wrong. Robinson also has middle schoolers, so it's not only high school students.

They cut my mic, and they also cut the feed. The feed was filmed and broadcasted out to the community via a cable access channel. I believe they then do a livestream on YouTube. They cut the feed and cut my microphone. That was it.

So, I was not allowed to speak for the full two minutes. The last part of my speech was extremely important. This is illegal. Here's Virginia's code. It says that this is illegal.

Blair: I'm glad that you brought it up. This story was fascinating to me because it was not just about a member of the school board. It was the chair. Stella Pekarsky was the one who said that this was inappropriate to read aloud for children, as they were there. It sounds like this happened twice.

Was that what you thought when Ms. Pekarsky said it? What did you think of the other person telling you that there were high school students here? How did you feel when they cut your microphone? What did you think?

Langton: It made me mad because I could see the clock on the wall that shows your time. I knew I was not out of time. They were trying to stop my completion of my time. It made me mad because I was like, "No, that's not fair."

This is not a back-and-forth. They have two ways to go about the rules they've created. They are expected to listen to the presentation and to be respectful of the audience. Everyone must be polite, respectful, and quiet while listening to the speaker's presentation. They didn't follow the rules. It was extremely rude and disrespectful. It is absurd that they always say they expect respect and decorum. They didn't give me that.

I looked at the clock and thought, "Oh wait, Im not finished." But then, I realized, "No, you know what?" I will stand there and finish what I am trying to say. You people will listen because it is wrong that you are trying to stop my speech.

Blair: What did you do following the meeting of the school board?

Langton: The next day, I saw them. I went to see the superintendents office. I tried to visit Dr. Scott Brabrand on the next day, but he was not available.

They have not contacted me. I have not heard back from anyone. I don't have any accountability. I have no answers. Nobody has reached out to me to tell me how it happened. These are the things I want to know. These are the decisions of who? Who is putting this stuff there How is the approval process done? I don't know anything. These are things I'd love to know. I'm just not getting anywhere with this right now.

I persevered even though the principal of the school did not see me the following day. I returned on Monday, and she saw me again. She said, "Well, weve begun this review process. We are forming a committee. You can put your name in the hat for the committee. We will randomly select a few parents."

And I thought, maybe I should be on the review committee, since I am the only one who has reviewed these materials. But it doesn't work that way. It's all random. It's random.

The email stated that they were selecting two students to join the committee. However, because of the nature and content of the material, they must be legal (18-year-old) adults.

Blair: Looks a little messed-up.

Langton: It's absurd. It is absurd.

Blair: It doesn't seem to follow. If there are other parents who might be interested in joining the board, have other parents in Fairfax County responded to similar incidents? Are you receiving a lot support from other parents in your community?

Langton, Oh, it's just a wall-to wall positive response, wall to wall positive. It's funny, it seems, because the response has been overwhelming. Everywhere I go people thank me for doing what I did. They call me brave and say it was very courageous. People say, "You are my hero." But I wasn't thinking that I was going to be a hero. This was because I believed other parents should know the truth.

It was never something I expected to see explode and become a national conversation. Maybe that is what happened because it isn't a Fairfax County or Loudoun County issue. Because parents across the country woke up, and are now looking through their children's school materials, I am receiving materials from them. They are looking through their children's backpacks and sending me hair products that will curl your hair.

Blair: You mean? Blair: What?

Langton: Yes. Yes. Yes. It is a national problem. This is a problem that affects all of us. It's a good thing that it happened, because it will help to illuminate the part of what is happening that parents may not have been aware of.

Although I don't have the time, I do have a plan. I want to keep all of the materials in other school districts aside and then I will need to type those titles and authors into my son's computer and ask him, "Are these all Fairfax High School books?" They might also be in FCPS, but they could be.

It is terrible. It is absolutely horrible.

Blair: The Department of Justice has announced that it will be investigating threats against teachers and school boards. These threats are specifically related to encounters between parents, school administrators and teachers. This is not a new issue. What does the Department of Justice's framing of the issue make you feel?

Langton, Well, it shocks me personally. It was very alarming and shocking to see the DOJs announcement on Tuesday night. I am not encouraging anyone to commit violence. I did not do anything violent. I entered a room, stood up at a podium, and exercised my right of free speech. I then read aloud some school library material. That's what I did.

If your parents are doing something else, as I have seen, they show clips of people taking out board members' houses. It is wrong. This is wrong. This is not the right way to address a problem with your school board.

The DOJ should not be using the FBI to intimidate parents who want to control what their children are taught in school. There is no other way for us to interact with the school system. This is it. So, I say "Hello, everybody, we have an issue here." Let's look into it. There is something going on. We need to take action. That's why the school board meeting exists. The DOJ should not send FBI agents to talk to me or parents who exercise their First Amendment rights during a school board meeting.

Blair: A response from the other side of this aisle. There was an article in Washington Blade that featured Robert Rigby (co-president of Fairfax Public Schools Pride), a LGBT organization. He claimed that you guys were misinformed about these books, and that they don't depict child-adult sexual relationships. Here is his quote. Here is his quote: "I have read them cover to cover, and this is simply false."

Langton, No, it's not true. The materials are available for inspection. I gave a copy of the materials to the board as a handout. So I read aloud, I presented some images, and it was printed on a piece paper. You are allowed to present to the board members and it is then entered into the permanent record. You can now look through the materials.

This isn't ambiguous. These pictures are not something you're going to see and think, "Oh no, maybe that's questionable." It's pure pornography. XXXX, 100%.

Robert Rigby doesn't seem to know what I am talking about. It's the same with the written portions from the novel. One of them is a normal novel. This material is pornographic when you read it aloud or on the pages. This isn't in dispute. He tried to pretend that it wasn't, but he hasn't reviewed it. I don't know how that could be possible. He is literally defending the undefended.

The other thing I find troubling about the attacks from Robert Rigby, who is associated to the LGBTQ community is that I have stated from the beginning that this isn't about, Im not here to bash gays, bash trans people or whatever. If the characters and people depicted in those materials were men and women, I would have come to that meeting and said everything I had to say. Can you see what I mean? It would have been heterosexual pornography if I had shown up and said everything I said.

It is not about the genders of the people in pornography. It is not about the sexual orientations of the pornography subjects. It's about the fact that pornography exists. The pedophilia photos are just one example of the evil that is added to the mix because it is against the law.

Blair: Is this a topic that children should learn about in school? What other way could this topic have been dealt with in a more appropriate manner than the way it was presented in these books?

Langton: What topic do you think should be dealt with appropriately?

Blair: Human sexuality is what I mean. The LGBT community seems to believe that this book is about coming of age or finding your identity as a person.

Langton: Yes. Yes, I see. I understand what you are saying. Okay, here's my answer. I'd say that I'm not going to Fairfax High Schools library to light a match to their LGBTQ books collection.

You can write a biography about Freddie Mercury, a gay man who was one of the greatest singer-songwriters ever to live. That's amazing. It would be great if someone wrote a book about him or his journey, but it does not have to contain any pornography. You never know, I might even be interested in reading that book.

Let's say Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner wrote a book about her journey from being trans to whatever. I would be interested in reading that book. It's fine to have the book if you wish, but it doesn't have to contain any porn.

Blair: According to reports from the area, the Fairfax County school library has been closed down for the two books you mentioned at the school board meeting.

Langton: No, no, no. Let's be exact, shall we? They cannot be removed. They are temporarily removed from circulation. It is currently under review. They have not been removed. Because you never know what could happen, I don't like people using this word. They might read these books and say, "No, we're OK with that." It's cool, so we are going to return them.

They are therefore not being removed. While they review the files, they are temporarily removed from circulation. I don't know how long it will take or what the final result will look like. They could very well return those books to the shelves. They aren't being removed.

Blair: Where do we go from there? What is the secret to victory over this content?

Langton: I think you need to find the answers that I don't have. That is, where did all this content come? It is up to those who are accountable to answer for the content. Accountability is essential. These should not be happening at our schools. This type of material should not be used in schools.

I also pointed out to The Washington Post reporter, that this is very similar to sexual harassment laws. If you were a male employee of a corporation, and you entered work, and took these images to the school board, and showed them to a female colleague, you could be charged with sexual harassment and even lose your job.

The law governing sex harassment states that you can create a hostile work environment. In essence, this is what's happening to our children. This is a form sexual harassment and you are creating a hostile learning environment. This must stop. That's where accountability must occur.

Blair: Stacy, we have a lot to consider. What advice would you give other parents in the country who are worried about books like these at their schools as we close this interview?

Langton: Parents, stand up! Stand up. Participate in the lives of your children. Look at the curriculum. You need to pay attention if you aren't paying attention. Don't be intimidated if you find similar things to mine, and don't be afraid of standing up. Do not be intimidated or manipulated by Merrick Garland, [Attorney General] of the DOJ. You must [stand up] to your school board to tell them that this is unacceptable.

Blair: This was Stacy Langton from Fairfax County Virginia. She went before her school board to complain about the board's allowing books that contained sexually explicit or pedophilic material. Stacy, thank-you so much for taking the time to comment.

Langton: Thank you for having me.

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