NEWTOWN, Conn. (WTNH) — The Newtown Board of Education voted Thursday evening to keep two books in the high school library, that have caused a heated debate among members of the community.

The titles at the center of the book ban controversy are “Flamer” by Mike Curato and “Blankets” by Craig Thompson. Both include themes of gender identity and sexuality.   

The rhetoric over the two novels became so intense in recent weeks that community members, parents and students rallied over the potential book ban, touching upon the larger nationwide debate on the subject.

Two Newtown Board of Education members resigned ahead of the much-anticipated vote, and said they did not have an issue with the LGBTQ+ topics in the books, but the sexual content.

Thursday night’s meeting ended with the remaining five board members voting to keep the books with an amended compromise. The compromise is that the administration must come up with a process to address concerns about the books from parents.   

“‘Flamer’ and ‘Blankets’ remain in circulation provided the administration develops a process to address individual parent or guardian concerns related to their children,” said board member Alison Plante (D), during Thursday night’s meeting.   

“This is a fascist attack on minorities that’s being pushed from a national agenda,” said parent Dan Grossman during the public comment portion of the meeting.  

Parents and board members who take issue with the novels feel the sexual content isn’t appropriate for a high school library.   

“Parents and educators that support putting explicit sexual material in our library is someone I don’t want anywhere near my children,” one parent said during public comment.

Other parents and students feel strongly that these books are significant for LGBTQ+ teenagers.   

“Just yesterday, I sat on a bus during a field trip and other kids yelled homophobic remarks and slurs and threw paper at me. These kids did not learn this in the pages of ‘Flamer,’” a student said during public comment.    

The irony of the whole issue is that the two books have sat unread on library shelves for years.   

“Flamer” has never been checked out, and “Blankets” was checked out once nearly 10 years ago in 2015.   

The president of the Connecticut Library Association said 38 similar challenges have come up in other towns in Connecticut.