The Advocate July/Aug 2022
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New School Board President Calls for Burning LGBTQ+ Books

burning books

The new president of the Spotsylvania County School Board in Virginia, Kirk Twigg, has given some parents pause for concern due to previous comments he's made — and yes, it involves the old fascist chestnuts of homophobia and book burning. 

When board member Kirk Twigg was elected president Monday, the first thing he did was to attempt to fire Superintendent ​​Scott Baker, who had already announced his intention to resign at the end of the school year, according to local TV station WRC.

Twigg was, however, schooled by his fellow members for having no grasp of the school board's procedures. 

“You have not stated any justification or ability to fill the position. You cannot even properly chair a meeting, but yet you're going to terminate a superintendent for no reason,” Nicole Cole, a member from the Battlefield District, said. “How is this good for the students, the children of Spotsylvania County? How does this make sense? Spotsylvania citizens please recognize that you have not been given any valid reason.”

The outgoing board president, Dawn Shelley, criticized Twigg as she vacated her seat. “He has spoken about confidential [human resources] matters in open session. He is constantly using his AOL account to send and read emails throughout school board meetings. He wants to burn books,” Shelley said.

The school board ultimately voted in favor of Superintendent Baker’s termination. 

This situation follows on the heels of an incident in November, which arose from a parent’s outrage upon discovering that there were LGBTQ-inclusive books available in one of the district’s school libraries. She took her disapproval to a board meeting, highlighting one book in particular, 33 Snowfish by Adam Rapp, for its inclusion of LGBTQ+ content and discussions of sexual abuse, drug addiction, and sex work.

Her complaints were met with agreement from some on the board. Member Rabih Abuismail agreed that “we should throw those books in a fire,” according to The Free Lance-Star

“There is some bad, evil-related material that we have to be careful of and look at,” agreed soon-to-be president Twigg. “[We should] see the books before we burn them, so we can identify within our community that we are eradicating this bad stuff.”

The board voted to remove the “sexually explicit” books from district libraries, which caught the attention of news outlets and motivated parents with more progressive viewpoints to attend the next meeting with the school board. They offered scathing rebukes and one even suggested the board members submit their resignation. 

This move to censor content is in keeping with the rhetoric of the state’s anti-LGBTQ+ governor-elect, Glenn Youngkin, who made “parents’ righta” a central part of his platform. 

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