The Student News Site of McLean High School

The Highlander

The Student News Site of McLean High School

The Highlander

The Student News Site of McLean High School

The Highlander

GSAs hold anti-book ban rally at board meeting

LGBTQ+ students rally at school board meeting in protest of book bans
Marley DeRienzo, co-president of McLean’s GSA, and Astra Smith show their support for the rally

In recent years, the banning of books from school libraries has become a prominent topic of debate, with an increased focus on the ban of books discussing LGBTQ+ narratives and issues. On Feb. 8, a school board meeting was held at Luther Jackson Middle School to discuss Black History Month, food and nutrition and the proposed budget for the 2024-2025 school year. Students across Fairfax County rallied outside the board meeting to protest the recent anti-LGBTQ+ book bans.

Members of the LGBTQ+ community are particularly upset with the recently banned books, as the majority of those banned were flagged for LGBTQ+ content. A large number of these books do not contain sexually explicit material, but were rather banned as parents were uncomfortable with their children reading books that included an LGBTQ+ narrative.

The attendees of the rally created signs beforehand that read phrases such as “ban the book ban” and “irregularities are not abnormalities.”. They also carried small LGBTQ+ pride flags to show their unwavering support of the LGBTQ+ community in this unsettling time of prejudice. The group stayed throughout the meeting to show their unwavering solidarity with the cause.

Junior Marley DeRienzo, the co-president of McLean’s GSA, was present at the rally and prepared to show their support.

“I wanted to contribute to the cause and show that it’s actual students who are protesting these book bans,” DeRienzo said. “[Students] have experience with it, so I wanted the school board members to see that we were there.”

Laura Truong, a Falls Church High School senior, organized the event and registered to speak at the board meeting to voice her thoughts on the issue.

“I talked about how removing titles would not only remove representation but would also take away important resources and conduits for learning things like empathy and kindness,” Truong said. “There are many lessons to be found in books!”

Truong feels especially tied to the issue of banned books, and chose to incorporate that into her advocacy towards the cause.
“I’ve always liked to read and the idea that books are being censored for students is really terrifying to me,” Truong said. “I grew up needing to see a lot of representation, which I got primarily through books.”
Junior Astra Smith, a member of McLean’s GSA also attended the event to voice their opinion on the topic. Smith believes that banning books, especially books that contain LGBTQ+ themes, is an outdated practice that should no longer be implemented in FCPS schools.

“Why are we banning books in general?” Smith said. “Books are a place for people to learn about experiences that might be different from theirs.”

On the topic of banning books entirely, DeRienzo offered a solution they believe both parents and the school board would accept and agree upon.

“I believe that you can regulate books based on age groups, because if sexually explicit content is truly the issue, it’s not appropriate for Kindergarteners to read, but high schoolers are completely able to think critically and discuss those topics in a mature way,” DeRienzo said. “Instead of banning books for the entire county or the entire school, you need to think more specifically about who they’re for.”

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Highlander
$60
$1000
Contributed
Our Goal

Your donation supports the McLean High School's independent, award-winning news publication.

More to Discover
Donate to The Highlander
$60
$1000
Contributed
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All The Highlander Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *