UPDATE: The board of directors voted overwhelmingly to keep the books in the youth sections!
In September 2018, a community member in Andover, Kansas objected to three books in the public library on “moral” grounds. The books, I Am Jazz by Jessica Herthel, Lily and Dunkin by Donna Gephart, and George by Alex Gino, tell inspiring stories of transgender youth and have been widely lauded. In keeping with established policy on the reconsideration of library materials, the Andover Public Library director convened a committee to review the books and ultimately accepted its recommendation to keep them in their designated sections for youth. The complainant has appealed the decision.
As the appeal is considered, NCAC is urging the Andover Public Library to reaffirm its commitment to upholding the First Amendment, which guarantees the right of all young people in Andover to read and learn, absent bias or viewpoint restriction.
In requesting reconsideration, the community member emphasizes the library’s “moral responsibility” to “protect children from this kind of reading” and criticizes Andover Library for “exposing to things that are not age appropriate, and [pinning] the responsibility to parents and say it’s up to them to monitor what their children read [sic].”
It is crucial that libraries offer access to a broad diversity of ideas and foster open exchange of perspectives. Libraries should strongly resist efforts by any individual or group to impose their own subjective ideas of morality on the general public.
Far too many young people in the LGBTQ community do feel different and this feeling of social exclusion and nonconformity puts them at heightened risk of mental illness. It is especially important that young people who feel stigmatized and silenced have unfettered access to books that reflect their experiences and lead them towards hope and self-acceptance.
The suppression of LGBTQ books further marginalizes a vulnerable group. Everyone should be equally welcome and guaranteed freedom to read, think and explore new ideas.
Read our full letter to Andover Public Library below.