The boys can kiss! Challenged YA novel to remain in school library
Since his 2003 debut young adult novel Boy Meets Boy was published, David Levithan has been giving his readers strong and independent gay teen characters. In his latest book, Two Boys Kissing, Levithan tells the story of a couple that decides to break the record for longest kiss in front of their school to show solidarity for a friend who was a victim of a gaybashing. Narrating the book are the ghosts of men lost to AIDS, the generation who “were going to be your role models, to give you art and music and confidence and shelter and a much better world.”
Two Boys Kissing has been the centre of controversy at Fauquier High School in Warrenton, Virginia, after Jessica Wilson, a mother of an FHS student, asked to have the book removed from the school library because the cover depicts, well, two boys kissing and, therefore, breaks the school’s rule of no public displays of affection.
During the committee meeting to vote on whether the book should stay in the library, FHS teacher Marie Miller said, “If the focus of this book was on heterosexual teen relationships, it would not be the subject of a book challenge.”
Fifty people attended the meeting, with 24 people voicing their opinions and others reading letters by six people who could not attend, including the book’s author.
After listening to the varying views, the school committee unanimously voted to keep Two Boys Kissing in the school library to continue inspiring students like recent FHS graduate Joshua Moore, who spoke out about how gay literature helped him embrace his sexuality and feel less isolated.
“I remember how it felt for me to come to terms with myself,” Moore said. “I remember one day I went to the library and I started reading The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Hero. They were very poignant to me. My librarians helped me to broaden my horizons. I didn’t have to sit around and think that I was so alone in this school.”
Joshua Moore hugs Mary Jo Sears, who was his librarian at FHS, after speaking at the committee meeting about how she introduced him to books that helped him on his path of self-discovery. Fauquier Times Staff Photo/Hannah Dellinger.