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Davis District to leave book about lesbian mothers on library shelves

Published February 1, 2013 8:08 am

Education • Davis agrees to not remove any other book just for having content on homosexuality.
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The Davis School District agreed Thursday to leave a book about lesbian mothers on its library shelves, and won't remove any other books just because they include content on homosexuality.

The agreement settles a lawsuit over the removal last spring of In Our Mothers' House from the regular shelves of four district libraries. The children's book by Patricia Polacco is about a family with two mothers.

"I am happy that all parents will now have the chance to make their own decisions about their own children," Tina Weber, a Kaysville mother who filed the suit, said in a written statement. "Nobody should be able to tell other people's kids what they can and can't read."

The district does not make any admission of liability in the settlement. Under the agreement, it must pay $15,000 in attorneys' fees to the ACLU Foundation of Utah Inc., which represented Weber in the suit that was filed in November in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City.

The district already had instructed its librarians in January to put In Our Mothers' House back on the shelves and not restrict access to it unless specifically instructed by a child's parents — the standard procedure for any book.

The dispute began last year with complaints from parents claiming the book — which was available at Windridge, Parkside, Snow Horse and South Weber elementary schools — promoted homosexuality.

A school committee decided to move the books to sections of the libraries meant for older elementary students, but some parents were still not pleased. A district committee then voted to put the books behind school library counters, which required kids to get parental permission slips to check them out.

In a letter sent in early January to parents who objected to In Our Mothers' House, Davis Assistant Superintendent Pamela Park said the district had skipped a procedural step when limiting access to the book. The district committee was supposed to send its recommendations to her so she could review them, but that didn't happen, she said.

To fix that oversight, Park wrote, she reviewed the committee decision and decided there was a less restrictive way to both keep the book in the library and respect parental rights.

The ACLU pointed out Thursday that Palacco has written other books focusing on families of different backgrounds and cultures and said none of those were restricted by the Davis School District.

"Children shouldn't be discouraged from learning about different families or cultures by keeping books behind a counter as if there was something wrong with them," said John Mejia, legal director of the ACLU of Utah.

pmanson@sltrib.com

Twitter: @PamelaMansonSLC