About 60 parents gathered outside McLean’s Dolley Madison Public Library on December 11 to protest an exhibit that was removed earlier in the week.
Library workers were ordered to remove the display after citizens complained about the content. The display, dubbed “Holiday Hate” in an email from a McLean resident to county officials, included gnomes alongside the books, “Lawn Boy” and “Gender Queer” as well as the “Holy Bible” in the hands of a third gnome. Scraps of paper with handwritten quotes from Salman Rushdie’s “Satanic Verses” and other books were pinned to the back of the exhibit, witnesses said.
By the time Springfield District Supervisor Pat Herrity and Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust contacted library officials, they were told the issue was being investigated. âAfter reviewing the photos included in the email, I understood why the voter objected to it,â Foust said. The screen was removed a few hours later.
Several residents said they believed the display had been very carefully thought out to include details of the bees in the caps of some of the gnomes, and a rainbow hat over the gnome holding the Bible.
âThis is a community issue here in McLean with this activist librarian,â said Andrea Forti, McLean resident for 32 years. âI have the impression that she is hitting McLean parents in the eye. She advances her social and sexual programming program on McLean’s children and families. As a parent and a citizen, I am alarmed and I do not appreciate it.
“The Dolley Madison holiday reading display was intended to highlight the freedom to read and the fact that many library users have more time during the holidays to do so,” said the director of the public library. from Fairfax County, Jessica Hudson, in a statement. âIt was not the staff’s intention to create a display that could be interpreted as offensive. “
âIntentionally associating the Bible with these books seemed like a provocative act of making fun of people who object to the books in the library,â said Jeff Shapiro, a 13-year-old McLean resident.
Supervisory board chairman Jeff McKay did not respond to questions about the One Fairfax signage and policy. And although Foust said he didn’t see a relationship between One Fairfax’s politics and the display, Shapiro disagreed.
âI believe this posting is a violation of One Fairfax policy both in letter and in spirit. It’s not inclusive when you make fun of other people’s beliefs, âShapiro said. âThe county should seek common ground, not isolate certain religions or groups to the detriment of others. They do not have the option of choosing who is included in their inclusion. You can’t include it for some and ask the government to say who’s in and who’s out. As a county government for all, it is their job to stay out of disputes but rather to find common ground between us. They take sides against their own policies. When the groups disagree, they (the county) should stay out. It is the opposite of what a Fairfax is.
Shapiro also said he felt the objection to the books was a common decency objection. âBooks are not an LGBTQ issue in my opinion. One of the books portrays sex between adults and children in an inappropriate light, âhe said.
The books have gained national attention since before the end of September when Stacy Langton, a A parent from Fairfax, had turned off her microphone as she read excerpts and showed pictures of the books at a school board meeting. Just last week, the books were among 100 books identified as containing obscene content by parents in North Carolina who filed nine separate criminal complaints with the Wake County Sheriff’s Office against the Wake County School District.
Fairfax Times contacted the library to interview those who set up the exhibit, but library officials declined the request.