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June 14, 2012 Dr. Bryan Bowles Davis School District 45 East State Street P.O.

Box 588 Farmington, Utah 84025 bbowles@dsdmail.net

Dear Superintendent Bowles, We are writing to express concern about the removal of In Our Mothers House by Patricia Polacco from libraries shelves in the Davis School District and the decision to restrict access to the book. We understand these actions were taken in response to objections to the books depiction of a non-traditional family. The First Amendment precludes public officials from suppressing ideas simply because some people find them offensive or controversial. The Supreme Court has cautioned that school officials "may not remove books from library shelves simply because they dislike the ideas contained in those books and seek by their removal to prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion." Board of Education v. Pico, 457 U.S. 853, 872 (1982)(plurality opinion). This constitutional duty applies with particular force in the school library, which, unlike the classroom, has "a special role...as a place where students may freely and voluntarily explore diverse topics." Campbell v. St. Tammany Parish School Board, 64 F. 3d 184, 190 (5th Cir. 1995). In Our Mothers House is a true story about children who grew up in a multi-racial family with two mothers. School Library Journal called it a gem of a book which illustrates how love makes a family, even if it's not a traditional one. A Stratford Library Association Review called it a model of inclusiveness for children which can help youngsters better understand their world. Whatever views may exist about such non-traditional families, they are part of the fabric of almost every community, including the school where the complaint was brought.

There is no valid argument that the book advocates homosexuality any more than a book about the hardships of life on a farm discourages farming, or a book about a courageous dog advocates dog ownership. Nor is there a valid claim that removal of In Our Mothers House is justifiable under state law. First, state law must be applied consistent with constitutional demands and, in the event of a conflict, the constitutional mandate prevails. Second, the book was not being used as an instructional material in the schools, and no one was required to read it. Parents who object to the book could easily supervise their childrens reading choices. However, restricting student access violates the rights of children whose parents want their children to be taught tolerance and respect for diversity and diminishes the education value of the library whose primary role is to allow students to make choices according to their own interests, experiences, and family values. As a practical matter, acceding to any demand to remove material potentially exposes the school to multiple, possibly conflicting demands, from others seeking accommodation for different views and beliefs. Decisions about school materials should be made for sound educational reasons, not because some people do or do not agree with the content. We strongly urge you to restore full access to In Our Mothers House in school libraries throughout Davis County. Those who object to this book are entitled to their view, but they may not impose it on others. Any other decision threatens the principle that is essential to individual freedom, democracy, and a good education: the right to read, inquire, question, and think for ourselves. If we can be of assistance in this matter, please do not hesitate to contact us. Sincerely,

Joan Bertin Executive Director National Coalition Against Censorship

Chris Finan President American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression