FARMINGTON -- A picture book about a lesbian couple raising a child was removed from the shelves of elementary school libraries in the Davis School District after a group of parents raised objections about the suitability of the story.
"In Our Mothers' House" by Patricia Polacco remains accessible at schools in Davis County, but only if a student presents a permission slip from a parent to check out the book, said district spokesman Chris Williams.
The decision to keep the book "behind the counter" in libraries followed an April 30 meeting during which a seven-member committee determined the book didn't align with district curriculum standards. The committee, comprising teachers, administrators and parents, voted 6-1 to keep the book off shelves, with a high school librarian casting the dissenting vote.
"State law says schools can't have anything in the curriculum that advocates homosexuality," Williams said. "That is why it is now behind the counter."
Concerns about the book surfaced in January, when the mother of a kindergarten student at an elementary school in the district became upset when her child checked out the book and brought it home. The mother and her husband brought their concerns to elementary school officials, according to Williams.
Polacco offers a description of the book, published in 2009, on her website. The book has been banned in other U.S. schools, including in several Texas districts.
"Marmee, Meema, and the kids are just like any other family on the block. In their beautiful house, they cook dinner together, they laugh together, and they dance together. But some of the other families don't accept them. They say they are different. How can a family have two moms and no dad?" the description states. "But Marmee and Meema's house is full of love. And they teach their children that different doesn't mean wrong. And no matter how many moms or dads they have, they are everything a family is meant to be."
A committee at the school level decided to move the title to a section of the library for grades 3 to 6, after determining the book -- recommended for students in kindergarten through second grade -- was better suited for older readers, Williams said. That didn't appease the parents of the kindergarten student, who gathered 25 signatures on a petition to move the discussion to the district level.
The district committee voted in April to place the book behind the counter.
Williams said the book was purchased in part because a student who attended the school, Windridge Elementary, has two mothers and librarians wanted to foster inclusion..
The district's decision indicates there is more work to be done in Utah to promote understanding of the state's increasingly diverse communities, said Brandie Balken, executive director of Equality Utah.
"I think at its core, it's important for us as a community to be committed to all children feeling like their families are valuable. And that they are safe in being their full selves at school," she said.
Polacco's tale joins other popular children's books that explore LGBT themes, including "And Tango Makes Three" and "Heather Has Two Mommies."
Williams said the district hasn't received any complaints from parents about Polacco's book being placed behind the counter.
Melinda Rogers can be reached at mrogerssltrib.com, For more stories visit scrippsnews.com