Central Bucks school board tied to Family Research Council, considers banning LGBTQ books

Central Bucks ties with anti-LGBTQ Christian nationalist group

District parent Anusha Viswanathan said the influence of the Independence Law Center contradicts district officials’ repeated claims that these policies intend to create “neutrality” in classrooms.

“That was always a sham, but it’s been proven beyond a doubt,” Viswanathan said. This has never been about ‘neutrality.’ It has always been about extremism.”

The final policy is more restrictive than earlier versions. It eliminates the requirement to review books in their entirety, the evaluation of “literary merit,” and the consultation with specific professional reviews and journals such as Kirkus Reviews and School Library Journal to determine suitability for readers.

It defines in more detail what would be considered “inappropriate” content, including definitions of “visually implied depictions of sexual acts” and “implied nudity.”

Sharon Ward, senior policy advisor for the Education Law Center, said “the policy would allow the district to look only at whatever small amount of sexual content might be in a book and to ban the book or remove it based on that.”

In an email to parents sent on Friday, district officials defended the policy updates, also referred to as the “administrative regulation” or AR.

There has been a lot of speculation that Policy 109.2 would constitute a ‘book ban’ or was aiming to remove books on LBGTQ+ stories and genres. We are sharing this communication so that you can read the Policy as adopted and the AR as now finalized and see for yourself that neither of those things are true,” the district email states.

The Pennsylvania Family Institute’s website states, “Family starts with a healthy marriage between one man and one woman, who raise their children in an intentional and loving home.”

The Independence Law Center and Pennsylvania Family Institute did not reply to WHYY News’ requests for comment.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups in the United States, says the FRC’s specialty is in “defaming LGBTQ people” and erroneously linking LGBTQ people with pedophilia.

“While activists like to claim that pedophilia is a completely distinct orientation from homosexuality, evidence shows a disproportionate overlap between the two … It is a homosexual problem,” wrote FRC president Tony Perkins on the FRC website in 2010.

Seidel, from Americans United for Separation of Church & State, who has examined FRC’s presence in the US, said the organization is a “complex, vast and shadowy network” that “has tendrils all the way up into conservative Trump administration, all the way down into our school boards.”

“It is designed and dedicated to making America a Christian nation,” Seidel said. “It’s fundamentally opposed to our constitutional promise of a government that belongs to ‘we, the people.’ They want a government that belongs to ‘we, the conservative Christians.’”

Seidel said the library book policy is “about dehumanizing the LGBTQ people and community. It’s about suggesting that they don’t exist,” which aligns with FRC’s mission.

Central Bucks, the fourth largest district in Pennsylvania, is under investigation by the US Department of Education after the ACLU of Pennsylvania allegedly created a hostile learning environment for LBGTQ youth.

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