Do sexually explicit materials belong in a school library?

WARNING: The video contains extremely graphic content. I had to turn it off part way through.

CLICK [3:24] to hear a parent read passages aloud at a recent meeting of the Waukee School Board. The pornographic passages are from three sexually explicit LGBTQ books stocked in a Waukee Public School Library, where they are available to be checked out by kids as young as 14. The books include All Boys Aren’t Blue, Lawn Boy and Gender Queer.

The article linked below says that after the school board meeting, the books were temporarily removed from the library while the district reviews them. The ACLU of Iowa predictably warned about the dangers of censorship. I got something similar from a fellow parishioner when I was creating a library for our church.

At the time, there was a religious novel written by a Catholic priest that was a big seller, but I had read it and been disturbed (as was our pastor) about some of the theology. When I was straightening up the library after Mass one Sunday, a parishioner told me she thought that title should be included in our collection. When I expressed my reservations about putting such a book on a shelf that was standing at the back of the church, she cried censorship. I explained that I had no budget and was unwilling to use my own money to buy a book I disapproved of, but I told her if she cared so much, she could donate a copy and I’d talk with Father about whether it was suitable. As it turned out, she didn’t care so about “censorship” when it came to spending her own money!

Anyway, this long-ago incident got me thinking about something that is applicable to my topic, namely, that public libraries are most often built using public monies to benefit a specific audience. In my case, it was mostly my money going to build a faith enhancement resource for the adult Catholics in my parish. In Waukee and elsewhere, it’s tax dollars going to build an educational resource for high school students. Every book that is purchased with an always limited budget – and given what is always limited shelf space – represents dozens of other books that were not chosen.

Can we really call the not-choosing censorship? Shouldn’t it more properly be labeled stewardship?

Comments Off on Do sexually explicit materials belong in a school library?

Filed under Loose Pollen

Comments are closed.