In February 2009, a Wisconsin couple, Ginny and Jim Maziarka, objected to several Young Adult titles, including Brent Hartinger’s The Geography Club, and Francesca Lia Block’s Baby Be Bop in the West Bend Community Memorial Library.
In April, the couple filed a petition calling on the Library Advisory board to remove and label “sexually explicit” YA books, because "all the books in the young-adult zone that deal with homosexuality are gay-affirming." Instead the Maziaka’s requested the library focus on obtaining books by "ex-gays" for "balance."
With the book challenges ongoing, the Common Council voted in April against renewing the terms of four library board members, after they were accused of “promoting the indoctrination of the gay agenda.” In fact, Alderman Terry Vrana said he disagreed with the board’s “ideology,” underscoring his “concern about the morality of this city,” he said. The council voted 5-3 to dismiss the board members. Kids’ Right to Read Project wrote this letter in response.
Meanwhile, the Christian Civil Liberties Union’s Milwaukee branch filed a legal claim against the city of West Bend, calling Baby Be Bop offensive and arguing that the elderly plaintiffs’ mental and emotional well-beings were damaged by the book’s inclusion on the library’s shelves. Named in the claim are the city of West Bend, Mayor Kristine Deiss, the West Bend Library Board and Library Director. CCLU seeks $30,000 per plaintiff, Deiss’ resignation and the book’s removal for a public burning.
In June, the board voted unanimously to keep the challenged books where they are in the public library, “without removing, relocating, labeling, or otherwise restricting access” to them.
For more information and multimedia click here.
Kids Right to Read Project interviewed authors and activisits in West Bend about this ongoing controversy:
- KRRP’s Interview with Brent Hartinger, author of The Geography Club
- KRRP’s Interview with Francesca Lia Block, author of Baby Be Bop
- KRRP’s Interview with Maria Hanrahan, founder of West Bend Parents for Free Speech
- KRRP’s Interview with Mary Reilly-Kliss, former member of West Bend’s Library Board
Click here for more on West Bend Citizens’ for Safe Libraries and Ginny Marziaka’s blog.