Hood County, Texas became the scene of a fierce battle over children’s books in the county library. The books, My Princess Boy, by Cheryl Kilodavis, and the 2015 ALA Stonewall Book Award winner This Day in June, by Gayle Pitman, came under fire in early June, when the library received 52 reconsideration forms asking for the books’ removal. Some even suggested—not at all satirically—burning them.
Their main complaints: that the books promote “perversion” and the “gay lifestyle” and “brainwash children.” The matter went before the Library Advisory Board, which “found nothing in the text of the books that was inappropriate for children.” The board concluded that they met the library’s policies regarding diversity of opinion and recommended that bothremain in the collection. The library’s director, Courtney Kincaid, agreed, and sent an eloquent letter to those who filed the challenges:
American libraries are the cornerstones of our democracy. Libraries bring information and opportunity to all people, no matter their race, religion, gender, creed, or politics. For children, decisions about what books to read should be made by the people who know them best – their parents.
But that wasn’t enough to put the matter to bed. Mel Birdwell, the wife of a Tea Party-supported state senator, stepped into the ring and sent an email to like-minded neighbors, calling on them to contact the Commissioners’ Court—the governing body of the county—and “take a stand on…the indoctrination of LGBT acceptance in our children’s lives.” She also named two other titles in the library’s stacks – The Family Book, by Todd Parr, and the oft-challenged Heather Has Two Mommies, by Lesléa Newman – as books of concern.
This forced the issue onto the July 14 Commissioners’ Court agenda, which allowed both sides their constitutional right to give their opinion on the matter in a public forum. And give their opinion they did – for three hours.
The challengers, however, were told in the end that they did not have the right to censor the books, whether it be by moving them from the children’s section to the adult section or removing them completely – a fact which NCAC hammered home in a letter to the Hood County Judge and four commissioners, and which they were already aware thanks to county attorney Lori Kaspar.
But is the fight over? With the vitriol that we’ve seen, it likely isn’t. Apparently the commissioners suggested that those who don’t like the decision can join the Library Advisory Board – which, by the way, is tasked with “[s]upporting intellectual freedom and the right to access in the public library.” Which should mean fighting the good fight – against censorship.
You’d think that the fine people of this county would have better things to do with their time than fight to restrict their neighbors’ right to access information and guide their own children’s upbringing. We hear there are plenty of good books to read at the county library.