FARMINGTON – A controversial book on a family headed by two women will be returned to library shelves at several elementary schools, though parents can file a request to prevent their children from checking out copies.
The new policy regarding “In Our Mothers’ House,” a children’s book by Patricia Polacco, was outlined this week in a letter from Pamela Park, assistant superintendent of Davis School District. The letter comes after a suit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Utah on behalf of a mother with children in the district.
“The library should be a place where students can be free to learn about the world around them,” said John Mejia, legal director of the ACLU of Utah, in a release. “That can’t happen if a book is kept behind the desk, leading students to believe that there is something wrong with it. We’re glad the school has removed that stigma. Now we just need to make sure that this does not happen again.”
The book tells the experience of a family with two mothers and touches on the prejudice they sometimes face in their community. It is currently part of the library collection in four district elementary schools.
After complaints from some parents, the book was reviewed by a district committee, which recommended the book be kept behind the counter and checked out only with the written permission of a parent.
When making their recommendation, the committee concluded that removing the book completely was not a good option, according to Park’s letter. They determined that the book could help children in same-sex families “see their family in a book,” teach acceptance and tolerance, and help prevent bullying of children from those families.
“The book was never removed from libraries,” said Chris Williams, community relations director for the district. “It’s always been accessible and parents have always had the right to have their children read the book.”
After meeting with the Attorney General, Williams said district officials sought a less restrictive way to honor parent concerns about that book or others they may wish to keep off-limits to their children.
While the book will again be on library shelves, parents can notify the school if they do not want their child to check it out. The librarian can then enter the restriction into the computerized library system to ensure the request is accommodated.
“The District recognizes a parent’s right to direct the upbringing of his/her own children,” said Park in the letter. “Under Utah law, a parent/guardian of a student who determines that the student’s participation in an activity would be contrary to the student’s (or parent’s) belief or right of conscience may request a waiver of participation for their own student.”
Davis County schools that have the book in their collection are Windridge, Parkside, Snow Horse and South Weber.