County board orders ‘harmful’ newspapers out of children’s reach at library
VIRGINIA — The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors in mid-October ordered the Fairfax Library Board to find a way to keep free publications “that may be harmful to children” out of their reach.
The board had requested its staff on Sept. 27 to find a “legal” way to ban distribution of The Washington Blade at the Fairfax County libraries or dissolve the Library Board. However, the board learned that it did not have the power to dissolve the Library Board without giving three-years’ notice.
“It’s fraught with peril,” said Phylis Salak, chairman of the Library Board in describing the Board of Supervisor’s motion. “We have agonized over this.”
The Fairfax Library Board will convene its policy committee on October 20 to work with the county attorney to consider the request by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.
“We’re happy its back in the [library] policy committee’s hands,” said Peg McCraw, president of the Fairfax Lesbian and Gay Citizens Association. “They [the library board] won’t try to take away our freedom of speech.”
Fairfax Board Chairman Thomas M. Davis stated that the compromise motion resulted in an effort to balance First Amendment rights and the need to remove “some pretty graphic stuff” from children, reported the Washington Post.
“It’s a half-way measure. It’s a move in the right direction,” said Eugene A. Delgaudio, a leader of the anti-Blade group. “Will it continue? The answer is `yes.'”
Two groups of demonstrators, including about 150 gay residents and their supporters and 10 counter-protesters, attended the Board of Supervisors’ meeting Oct. 11.
In May, the Board of Supervisors reacted to a public outcry against the availability of the Washington Blade by recommending that the Library Board place the free newspaper on shelves or behind counters. The Library Board chose not to act on that recommendation.