Liberal Groups Back Away From Book on 10-Year-Old Homosexual

July 7, 2008 - 7:03 PM

( - Simon and Schuster has published a novel featuring a 10-year-old boy who is homosexual, which is reportedly expected to be stocked in schools and libraries in Great Britain.

But America's largest teacher's union and library group are taking a hands-off approach with how to deal with the book and whether it should be placed on bookshelves in this country's schools and libraries.

According to a report in the British newspaper The Guardian, the book, entitled Strange Boy, tells the story of a boy who has a crush on a 14-year-old male friend.

Simon and Schuster admitted its decision to place the book on its "youth list," which is aimed at children as young as 13, would be controversial.

"Some people will doubtless pick up on the gay elements of the book, which are treated frankly and honestly, as being shocking and controversial," editor Stephen Cole was quoted by the newspaper. "I would argue that the real controversy of Strange Boy lies in the fact that it's not making a big deal out of having a gay child as its protagonist."

Whether the book will cross the pond to the U.S. remains to be seen but at this point, the National Education Association (NEA), the nation's largest teacher's union, said it would not be involved in determining whether the book would make its way into American schools.

NEA spokesman Darryl Figueroa said just because a book appears in British schools and libraries doesn't mean it will find its way to the U.S. "I wouldn't necessarily see that as a natural jump," she said.

Figueroa said that if controversy over the book did come up, it wouldn't matter because the NEA would not have anything to say about it.

"It is really not our decision about what curricula is used at various schools or what books are put in the libraries," she said. "That is not something that the teacher's union has any power over."

While the NEA may not have direct control over library book selections in schools, the union has a well-established track record of supporting homosexual advocacy in public schools.

The NEA helped develop, endorsed and distributed a guide to teachers and principles denouncing reparative therapies for homosexuals, and provides members with information about addressing homosexuality in schools, including teacher-led discussions about participating in events geared to homosexuality.

The position of the American Library Association (ALA) is that local school districts would determine whether Strange Boy would be among available reading material next fall.

"I would guess that it would be individual school districts that would make a decision like that," Beverly Becker, spokesperson for the ALA, said. "Most of those decisions take place locally."

Like the NEA, the ALA also actively supports the distribution of books focused on homosexuality. The library group has an annual award dedicated to "gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered writing," has worked with various homosexual groups in "diversity" conferences and sponsored the "Gay Teens in the 21st Century" program in Chicago in 2000.

Simon & Schuster could not be reached for comment about the book, Strange Boy, Friday. The book publishing company operates in Australia, Canada, The United Kingdom and the United States.

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