'Lawn Boy' author Jonathan Evison says book 'too profane', not meant for young children after school ban

'Lawn Boy' author Jonathan Evison says book 'too profane', not meant for young children after school ban
Jonathan Evison says paperback edition's 2022 sales of 'Lawn Boy' were twice as high as those of its initial print run (Photo: Amazon/ Andrew Toth/Getty Images for Sundance Film Festival)

BAINBRIDGE ISLAND, WASHINGTON: The author of a book that was banned from US schools for depicting a sex act between two 10-year-old boys has claimed that the novel was never meant for young children. Jonathan Evison's 2018 book 'Lawn Boy', which had passages that parents deemed "pedophilic," gained widespread notice in 2021 after being discovered in school libraries. 

The book's contentious portions caused school districts in at least 12 states to banish it from their libraries. The texts described a sex act that took place between two boys in the fourth grade at a Christian youth group gathering. According to Evison, the book was never meant to be included in school libraries, reported Washington Post.

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The author's remarks were included in a Washington Post piece that claimed that the book was banned from schools because "a mom wrongly said the book showed pedophilia." The story made reference to remarks made by a Virginia mother who incorrectly stated during a meeting of the school board that the book depicts a sexual interaction between a man and a ten-year-old boy. According to The Post, the false statement "[spawned] pedophilia claims in over a dozen school districts." 

However, the graphic portrayal of a sexual encounter between two boys startled many parents, and several school systems removed the book. In Texas in September 2021, parent Brandi Burkman, 43, asked a school board: "What sort of diversity are you intending to teach my child with material like this? Who normalizes sex acts between fourth-graders? I'll tell you who. Pedophiles."

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According to The Post report, an examination revealed that at least 35 school districts had difficulties with 'Lawn Boy's use in libraries. Twelve states' districts banned the book. About 63 percent of them later put the books back on the shelves, but at least four still had the prohibitions in place. Following the American Library Association's 2019 award for the book's "special appeal to young adults," some school districts may have chosen it for their libraries. 

A synopsis of the book reads, "Lawn Boy is an important, entertaining, and completely winning novel about social class distinctions, about overcoming cultural discrimination, and about standing up for oneself," as cited by Daily Mail. Evison acknowledged that it might be seen as "too profane," but claimed that the contentious portions were not meant to "glorify the experience." He questioned whether some parents who protested "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 to have these stories told," he stated.

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Evison added that the paperback edition's 2022 sales were twice as high as those of its initial print run. The 'Lawn Boy' saga occurred in the midst of a heated national debate regarding literature found in school libraries that address issues like gender, critical race theory, and sexuality. 'Lawn Boy' was only one of many titles that were listed as "banned books."

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