Utah school district sued over restricted access to lesbian family book

Wed Nov 14, 2012 8:28pm EST
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Jennifer Dobner

SALT LAKE CITY (Reuters) - A Utah parent has sued her school district in federal court challenging the constitutionality of restrictions imposed on student access to a library book about a lesbian couple raising a family.

"In Our Mothers' House" by author Patricia Polacco was removed from Davis School District library shelves and placed behind the counter last spring after complaints from some parents that a lifestyle they viewed as aberrant was favorably depicted in the book.

Under a decision made by a district committee in April, the book remains in its school library collections, but students need permission from their parents to check it out.

School officials acknowledge no similar limits have been placed on other titles in the library inventories of the Davis district, which encompasses an area north of Salt Lake City.

Parent Tina Weber objected to the restrictions, and attorneys for the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit on her behalf in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, saying the policy amounts to "prior restraint" that violates her children's free-speech rights.

No hearings have been set in the case, for which the ACLU is seeking class-action status.

Utah is not the first place parents have raised concerns about Polacco's book, which was published in 2009. A 2011 report by the ACLU of Texas showed "In Our Mothers' House" was banned in several schools in that state.

The Utah lawsuit asserts that by restricting access to a book based on its depiction of a family with same-sex parents, "the district has placed a discriminatory burden on the students' ability to access fully protected speech."   Continued...