Loudoun County’s Supervisor of Secondary English and Reading Department Instruction budgeted over $1.3 million on books for sixth to 12th-graders that represent “diverse characters,” according to a records request obtained by the Daily Caller.
Michelle Picard, a Loudoun County, Virginia, administrator who oversees reading instruction in middle and high schools, sent an email in 2019 informing staff that the district had $1,325,000 to spend on “books with diverse characters or authorship.” “Diverse” according to Picard means “ethnicity/culture/heritage/language/religion/sexual orientation.” A Loudoun County spokesperson confirmed to the Daily Caller that the entire fund was not used, but could not retrieve an exact number at the time.
“The books need to be current and culturally responsive/respectful. They also need to be age appropriate,” Picard said in her 2019 email. Picard also said that she asked “BookSource,” an organization that manages and analyzes libraries for recommendations for collections.
Parents in Loudoun County told the Daily Caller that this was the tipping point for introducing “controversial” books into the district’s curriculum. Some parents claim that books under the “diverse characters” umbrella — specifically the book “All Boys Aren’t Blue” — feature “explicitly pornographic” images. (RELATED: Mom Banned From School Board Meeting For Showing Board Members ‘Porn’ Allegedly Available To Students)
Loudoun County father Scott Mineo emailed Picard on Nov. 24, 2021 requesting a meeting to discuss why the book “All Boys Aren’t Blue” was available in an 11th grade English classroom at Loudoun County Public School’s (LCPS) Stone Bridge High School. Picard, who oversees the district’s reading instruction, told Mineo that the book “was not purchased” by her department and would be reviewed by request at the school level, not the district level.
Mineo told the Daily Caller that he questions whether Picard had “zero influence” in the book selection, despite her job title and the book being available at other schools in the district. Mineo reached out to his daughter’s English teacher and Stone Bridge High School Principal Tim Flynn asking them whether Stone Bridge knowingly selected this book or whether it received the book from the district. He received no response.
Picard told Mineo that LCPS’ librarians and teachers recommended the book “All Boys Aren’t Blue” as an independent reading choice which “supports the focus of the curricular units.” Schools are given an additional allocation each year “to refresh their classroom and school libraries with newly published texts,” according to Picard’s email to Mineo.
“There is a commitment to provide a range of lived experiences in books for all students,” Picard told Mineo. “‘All Boys Aren’t Blue’ by George M. Johnson, a memoir, was recommended by librarians as a selection for independent reading and noted that it would fit into the 11th-grade curriculum unit, With Malice Toward None.”
According to Picard, the LCPS school board adopted a program called McGraw Hill StudySync, which provides curriculum and book guidance for English and Language Arts classrooms. The McGraw website states that the program helps “foster an equitable learning environment.” Picard said that “additional novels were also identified and integrated into the common units by curriculum committees.”
Mineo said he is still unsure whether the book was purchased by the district, the board, a curriculum committee, or individual schools, though his communication with Picard uncovered that outside vendors — including McGraw Hill and BookSource — play a role in bringing allegedly inappropriate books into the district’s libraries.
“Does anyone really thinking a book about gay incest should be in ANY school and merit a challenge OR should school officials make a moral and ethical decision to simply pull trash like this,” Mineo said to Picard, the Stone Bridge High School principal, and his daughter’s English teacher. “I don’t understand how this is even debatable.”
A Loudoun County spokesperson told the Daily Caller that the book “All Boys Aren’t Blue” was purchased by “librarians and teachers.”