The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit against Utah’s Davis School District after elementary schools there were told to restrict access to a children’s book centered around a gay family.
Patricia Polacco’s In Our Mothers’ House tells the story of a young African-American girl with two white mothers and adopted multiracial siblings. It was originally approved for the the Easy Reading section of Windridge Elementary School but, after some parents complained it “normalizes a lifestyle we don’t agree with,” librarians were instructed to keep the title behind the counter—and require students to get a parental permission slip to check it out.
The suit was filed on behalf of Tina Weber, whose children attend a school where the book was banned: “I was shocked when I heard that a handful of parents had made a decision about whether everyone else’s kids could have access to this book,” said Weber. “Our job as parents is to make sure we teach our children about our values. We can do that without imposing our personal views on the rest of the school community.”
Complicating matters is Utah’s sex-education laws, which prohibit any “advocacy of homosexuality.” If that sounds like the gay-propaganda ban in St. Petersburg, that’s because it amounts to the same thing. The ACLU is arguing the book simply tells a story and isn’t “advocating” anything one way or the other.
And as ACLU attorney Joshua Block points out, “children with same-sex parents attend schools across the country—including Davis County. Removing books from the shelves won’t change that.”
Polacco, who often writes about families from different backgrounds, wrote Mother’s House after attending a school assembly where a girl with same-sex parents was barred from reading an essay about her family because a teacher said “You don’t come from a real family.”