On the front page of Tuesday’s Washington Post is a very passionate, very through defense of a novel with passages of two ten-year-old boys who “meet in the bushes after a church youth-group gathering, touch each other’s penis, and progress to oral sex.” That’s the description by Post education reporter Hannah Natanson.
The story went from the front page to the entire back page of the front section. How long was it? If you click "Listen," it says "17 minutes."
The headline was “2 moms, and misinformation led schools to ban a book: How false claims about pedophilia in ‘Lawn Boy’ fueled parents’ anger.”
What’s the “misinformation” here? Some parents -- like Stacy Langton in Fairfax County, Virginia -- wrongly claimed it was sex between a 10-year-old boy and an adult man, as opposed to “the book describes a man in his 20s meeting another man in his 20s and remembering the consensual sexual encounter they shared in the fourth grade.”
Earth to the Post: Couldn't just the graphic oral-sex scene be enough for parents to protest, even between boys?
The article highlighted that some conservative media stars, like Tucker Carlson, passed along the man-boy sex misinformation.
Natanson’s article began with an outraged mom: "Brandi Burkman arrived at the Texas school board meeting with a printed speech, a plastic-sheeted library book and a swelling sense of fury." On the front page, Burkman was quoted: "What sort of diversity are you intending to teach my child with material like this?" And: "Who normalizes sex between fourth-graders?"
This was posted online on December 22, but made the paper on January 3. It concludes with several paragraphs about the methodology of how the Post obsessed for weeks over how many school districts faced challenges to the inclusion of this novel with the fourth-grade sexual encounter in school libraries.
As we’ve seen before, the sexual-awakening book was promoted for inclusion into school libraries by the American Library Association, which gave Lawn Boy an award in 2019 for its “appeal to teens.”
There was a surprise: the author said his novel wasn't for young people:
[Jonathan] Evison said his novel, an exploration of racial assumptions and the failures of late capitalism, is meant for adults. If schools want to offer the text, he said, they should restrict access to older students.
“Nobody below a teenager is ready for that book,” Evison said. “It’s got a lot of adult stuff.”
That’s quite an admission, but then the Post nudged Evison to judge the people who don’t want it in school libraries later in the article.
He suspects they “don’t like a marginalized, non-White, non-cisgender character trying to be comfortable and find their place in the culture. I think the end game of these people is they want to keep the status quo, and the best way to do that is not have these stories told.”
PS: A positive Post book review in 2018 never found the sex stuff.