A group of citizens is outraged at a growing number of sexually explicit children’s books offered at local public libraries – including stories about lap dancing, touching, oral sex, gay relationships, love triangles and masturbation.
A St. Louis, Mo., chapter of Citizens Against Pornography is asking libraries to seek parental consent before making sexually explicit books available to teens, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
Parent Laura Kostial visited the Daniel Boone library with her 12-year-old daughter and described offerings as “shocking” and containing “erotic” messages.
A few of the controversial books include:
- “Alice on Her Way” by Phyllis Naylor
- “Growing up Gay in America” by Jason Rich
- “The Little Black Book for Girlz, A Book on Healthy Sexuality”
- “Rainbow Boys” by Alex Sanchez
- “Looking for Alaska” by John Green
- “Sexual Decisions: The Ultimate Teenage Guide” by Kris Gowen
- “33 Snowfish” by Adam Rapp
- “A Seahorse Year” by Stacey D’Erasmo
Kostial said the earliest books in the Alice series are geared toward second graders.
“By the time she’s in middle school, there is stuff that just isn’t for the eyes of an 11-year-old,” she said. “You look at the cover and there’s this little blonde-haired girl with braces smiling. It’s just too sexually explicit.”
Former Republican state Rep. Carl Hendrickson is chairman of the local Citizens Against Pornography organization. He is asking libraries to create and adult advisory committee to screen titles, seek parental authorization before allowing children to check out books with sexual themes, establish a rating system and move explicit books from teen shelves to adult sections.
However, the library system argues taking such steps would be censorship. Also, some teenage members of its advisory board are upset with the proposal to restrict children’s access to the books.
“If a book is classified as a teen book by outside sources, there is no point in trying to restrict it from us,” David MacRunnel, 15, told the Post-Dispatch.
Charles Pace, director of the St. Louis County Library, said it is not the board’s place to make parental decisions.
“We are a library and we have to serve all the citizens,” he said. “We don’t act in the place of the parent. Whether I personally agree with an item or not is besides the point. It’s about having access.”
Tim Wadham, library assistant director of youth and community services, told the newspaper he felt the library system is under attack by anti-porn groups and the harassment is “continuing to escalate.”
“These folks are trying to create a scandal where there is absolutely none,” Wadham said. “It has become clear these folks are getting guidance on a national level.”
John Splinter, St. Louis regional director of the National Coalition for the Protection of Children and Families, has been contacted about the disagreement. He said the organization is willing to take the fight to another level if necessary.
“I want to give the library people a full opportunity to be good citizens and do the right thing,” he said. “On the other hand, if we don’t see some changes, then the coalition will get involved with this, and we fight pretty hard. We’ve been around long enough to have had an effect on these issues.”
According to the report, Deborah Caldwell-Stone, the deputy director of the Office for Intellectual Freedom at the American Library Association, said she feels confident the courts will side with libraries.
“When you’re talking about government agencies, be it a school board or a public library, they found that kids do have First Amendment rights in libraries,” she said. “The courts have found this kind of rule to be unconstitutional.”