Trouble in Paradise? (Part 19): Why is the Radical ALA Running the Blount County Public Library?

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Petition to Restore Responsible Governance at the Blount County Public Library

We, the undersigned residents of Blount County, petition our elected officials who fund the operations of the Blount County Public Library (“BCPL”) with our tax dollars to require the BCPL to repeal the existing Collection Development and Weeding Materials Policy (the “Policy”), which was improvidently approved by the BCPL Board of Trustees (“BOT”) on August 16, 2022, on the ground that the Policy effectively abdicates the decision-making process for selecting books for the BCPL collection to radical groups such as the American Library Association (“ALA”) and fails to provide an adequate mechanism for residents to object to offensive and age-inappropriate books unilaterally selected by individual BCPL staff members.

We wish to make clear that we regard the BCPL as a crown jewel of the community. The building, which opened in 2002, is magnificent.  As the only public library in Blount County, the BCPL serves a population of nearly 140,000 residents. The BCPL’s annual operating budget is funded primarily with over $2 million in tax revenues contributed each year by Blount County (50%), the City of Maryville (40%), and the City of Alcoa (10%). The BCPL performs an important public service [1] to the residents of Blount County at significant expense. Despite the enormous investment Blount County’s taxpayers make in the BCPL each year, the BCPL is governed by overseers—the nine-member BOT—not directly accountable to the public. [2] The BCPL serves the public and should be accountable to the public. At present, such accountability is lacking.

The BOT is an appointed body. Five of the BOT members are appointed by the County, three are appointed by the City of Maryville, and one is appointed by the City of Alcoa. Similar to the dysfunctional situation at Blount Memorial Hospital, the BOT recommends candidates for the BOT to the appointing bodies, further insulating the BOT from accountability to the public. [Bylaws of the BCPL BOT, Art. II, Section 2.1] Most Blount County residents are unaware who serves on the BOT (or even that the BOT exists).

Although the BOT meets monthly, few residents generally attend the meetings. As with roads, utilities, public safety, and sewer service, most Blount Countians assume that if they pay their bills and property taxes their elected officials and civil servants will make sure that taxpayer-funded services are performed properly. Unfortunately, that is not the case at the BCPL, particularly when it comes to selecting books for the BCPL collection. There are several reasons for this.

  1. Individual staff members should not unilaterally be making policy, especially if they do not reflect the values of the community.
  2. The Policy gives excessive weight to values embraced by the increasingly-radical ALA and fails to assign adequate weight to the values of the community.
  3. As written, the Policy is one-sided in favor of staff (and ALA) decisions and gives short shrift to community objections.

These defects are discussed at length in the accompanying Statement in Support of the Petition, along with footnotes, which are incorporated by reference.

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Statement in Support of Petition to Restore Responsible Governance at the Blount County Public Library

1.     Individual staff members should not unilaterally be making policy, especially if they do not reflect the values of the community.

One problem is that the BCPL is effectively run by its staff, who in some cases do not share the community’s values. Despite his duty to “direct the internal affairs of the library,” [see note 2, below] BCPL Director Manny Leite delegates the selection of books for the BCPL collection entirely to his staff. The Director personally plays no role in book selection. This is problematic because some of his staff—hired by his predecessor–are young, unseasoned, and out-of-step with the public they serve.

For example, the BCPL’s Youth Services Manager, Chelsea Tarwater, who runs the children’s section of the library (and is responsible for book selection for children), is a 2014 graduate of Maryville College whose senior project was to interpret the character Quentin Compson from William Faulkner’s novel The Sound and the Fury through the lens of “Queer Theory,” a field of critical theory that emerged in the early 1990s from LGBT studies and feminist studies.  She explains

“A queer reading of Quentin Compson isn’t a new concept, but it’s a fairly radical method of exploring the character,” Tarwater said.

According to Tarwater, the act of “queering” is radical in that the theory removes authority not only from the author, but from the society that surrounds both the author and the reader.

“‘Queering’ can loosely be defined as the act of pulling out the possibility of a queer identity from an otherwise heteronormative piece of work in an overarching heteronormative canon,” Tarwater said.

Tarwater is not only out-of-step with the community she serves (few of whom are aficionados of Queer Theory), [3] she openly disdains their values. In 2019, under the leadership of the prior BCPL Director, the BCPL “celebrated” something called Banned Book Week, and according to news reports Tarwater “helped create the displays and posters” for the event. The event amounted to mockery of community objections to inappropriate books purchased with taxpayer funds. According to the news report:

“Last year, people thought we were banning books. It still happens though people seem to believe it’s an out of date concept,” Tarwater said. 

The American Library Services encourages Banned Books Week to celebrate the freedom individuals have to read, push people to read books that are challenged, expand their knowledge and challenge themselves to explore content that could lead to a more well-rounded individual. 

This year’s motto is “Censorship leaves us in the dark. Keep the light on,” as seen on flyers and boards posted throughout the library. Everyone benefits from recognizing the act of challenging and banning books.

“Especially kids,” Tarwater said. Children don’t have as much choice concerning what they read. Everyone should have the choice to read. A public library should have something available for everyone, no matter what they do or don’t believe in.

Tarwater misleadingly suggests that “book bans” and community objections involve titles such as Catcher in the Rye, the Harry Potter series, and the like, ignoring sexually-explicit books and LGBTQ propaganda appearing in the children’s section—books that in many cases she herself selected. She seems to believe that she is better suited to determine what Blount County children should read than the residents of the community—while spending their money!

The children’s section of the BCPL contains dozens of inappropriate books—from pre-reader “picture books” to graphically-illustrated sex guides—that are objectionable to the majority of Blount County residents. One staff member should not have the unilateral, unsupervised ability to spend taxpayer funds on such inappropriate and offensive books. [4]

2.        The Policy gives excessive weight to values embraced by the increasingly-radical ALA and fails to assign adequate weight to the values of the community.

The Policy is explicitly based on, and incorporates as appendices, policy positions of the radical ALA. The ALA, like many similar organizations (e.g., teachers unions) have been captured by the left. The ALA philosophy boils down to this: Library employees are better equipped than the public they serve to determine what is suitable for inclusion in a taxpayer-funded library. In particular, the Policy presumes that library employees know better than do parents what types of reading material are suitable for children. [5] But is the premise of the Policy true? In a word, no.

The current President of the ALA, Emily Drabinski, is a self-proclaimed Marxist lesbian. She intends to use the ALA as a platform to advance her socialist, LGBTQ agenda. In her own words: “As part of her ‘Vision for ALA,’ Drabinski said the ‘consequences of decades of unchecked climate change, class war, white supremacy, and imperialism have led us here,’ but argued for change through ‘collective power’ and the use of ‘public goods like the library,’ according to her personal website.” https://www.dailysignal.com/2022/04/22/american-library-association-picks-self-proclaimed-marxist-as-president/

This left-wing rhetoric is obviously out of synch with the beliefs of an overwhelmingly majority of Blount County residents. The BCPL should reflect the values of the community it serves, and on whose taxpayer support it depends. Blount County is a conservative community in the Bible Belt whose residents expect the services they fund with their tax dollars to represent (or at least not undermine) their values.

The subject matter that we are most concerned with is the theme of LGBTQ (and sexuality in general), and in particular the promotion of the “transgender” agenda: presenting this deeply-controversial and radical concept as “normal” and depicting its opponents as “bigoted.” Our concern is greatest in the children’s and “Young Adult” sections, since younger readers are more impressionable. Many books in this genre appear to have been acquired in the past year or two. Based on the disproportionate number of titles dealing with LGBTQ themes, one could reasonably conclude that an agenda is at work—either ideological (“progressive”) or blindly mimicking current fashions in the publishing world.

We have not reviewed every title in the library touching on these topics, but we have sampled enough to be troubled by what we have found. In the children’s section, available to young children: books containing sexually-explicit images (It’s Perfectly Normal—see pp. 9, 60, 62); profanity and dark themes (Counting Scars– words such as “shit,” “bitch,” and the “f” word); and numerous books presenting as normal things such as “gender fluidity,” homosexual and bi-sexual romances, using the opposite sex’s bathrooms, puberty blockers, playing on the opposite sex’s sports teams, drag queens, etc.  Some examples are: Small Town Pride, I Am Jazz, The Other Boy.

These themes are even contained in picture books for pre-readers. E.g., Pride Colors, True You: A Gender Journey, The Meaning of Pride, If You’re a Kid Like Gavin: The True Story of a Young Trans Activist, This Day in June (with drag queens dressed like nuns!). See footnote 4.

There are many books on the topic of LGBTQ. The authors of many of these books are self-described LGBTQ activists. The books themselves are thinly-disguised (if disguised at all) pro-LGBTQ propaganda. These books may reflect the views of the ALA, but they are deeply offensive to most Blount County residents.

Many commentators have noted the ALA’s radical shift to the left. See, for example:

https://thefederalist.com/2022/04/22/amid-public-concern-about-grooming-kids-american-library-association-picks-marxist-lesbian-as-president/

https://thefederalist.com/2022/02/16/meet-the-sex-shop-founder-who-is-grooming-children-through-books-in-school-libraries/

https://nypost.com/2022/09/10/librarians-go-radical-as-new-woke-policies-take-over-experts/

https://thefederalist.com/2023/02/03/kids-disinterest-in-libraries-has-nothing-to-do-with-a-manga-shortage/

In sum,

Libraries, for decades the ultimate safe spaces, have become ground zero in the ongoing culture wars, with battles over banned books, drag queen story hours and free access to porn raging all over the country — from Louisiana to Idaho to Washington State as well as cities like New York and LA.

“The average person has no idea of this but librarians have been targeting children in recent years and trying to turn them into political activists,” said Dan Kleinman, a self-described “library watchdog” from Chatham, NJ, who has run a website called “Safe Libraries” for more than 10 years. He said he has documented the alarming radicalization of the nation’s libraries….

Children are impressionable, innocent, and vulnerable to bad influences. Instilling in them a foundation of sound beliefs and values is essential to their moral and intellectual development. Many “young adults” (i.e., teenagers) struggle with the confusion of adolescence. Introducing trendy, untested concepts that were until a few years ago regarded as a mental illness (i.e., gender dysphoria) does them a disservice and is deeply insulting to the overwhelming majority of Blount County residents who regard the LGBTQ agenda as immoral, perverse, and abnormal.

3.       As written, the Policy is one-sided in favor of staff (and ALA) decisions and gives short shrift to community objections.

Our principal objection to the Policy is that it is asymmetrical and one-sided. The BCPL spends between $100-150,000/year on books using locally-sourced tax monies and another $30,000/year using state-administered funds. At their sole discretion, BCPL staff can unilaterally select controversial and inappropriate books (using taxpayer funds) for the BCPL collection without the review or approval of the BCPL Director or the BOT, but objecting residents face a formidable—and fruitless—gauntlet if they wish to challenge the staff’s inclusion of a book.

The Policy prescribes a strict process for residents objecting to books. A separate form (BCPL Request for Reconsideration of Material, attached to the Policy as Appendix A) must be filled out for each book, and submitted to the BCPL Director. Per the Policy:

Once received, the Library Director will review the Reconsideration Form and the material(s) in question to contemplate whether its selection follows the criteria stated in the Library Collection Development &Weeding Materials policy. Within 30 days, the Library Director will make a decision and send a letter to the concerned patron who requested the reconsideration, stating the reasons for the decision.

Based on recent challenges to books in the BCPL collection, in practice residents’ objections are invariably denied. The denial letters appear to follow a standard template.

https://www.thedailytimes.com/news/blount-county-public-library-trustees-hear-second-round-of-public-comments-on-book-challenges/article_78001828-c9d4-11ed-8ea6-8f321038acbf.html

The Policy continues: “If the patron is not satisfied with the decision, a written appeal may be submitted within ten business days addressed to the Library Board of Trustees.” The objecting resident must appear before the BOT on each challenged book, but is limited to two minutes to make his case. Two minutes! “The decision from the Library Board of Trustees is final. The petitioner must be present for the scheduled meeting with the Library Board of Trustees. Failure to appear at the meeting shall result in the withdrawal of the complaint.” The Policy indicates that “Trustees will read, view, or listen to the material in question in its entirety,” but it is unlikely that this actually happens.   

This is not so much a policy for challenging objectionable books as it is a rubber stamp approving the selection decisions of BCPL staff. The “rationale” for denying objections follow a canned format—citing the ALA’s “Library Bill of Rights” and “The Freedom to Read Statement” (which are appended to the Policy as Appendix B and Appendix C, respectively) and various “recommendations” and awards conferred by left-wing and pro-LGBTQ groups, such as the ALA’s Rainbow Round Table (“RRT”). The RRT of the ALA “was founded in 1970 as ALA’s Task Force on Gay Liberation. It is the nation’s first gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender professional organization.”

The RRT confers various “awards” on pro-LGBTQ books, creates “book lists” for children and teen readers, and honors what it considers noteworthy “LGBTQIA+ books” with the Stonewall Book Award. The Policy gives little or no consideration to Blount County’s community values. Deferring to “recommendations” by the ALA is like rejecting challenges to pornography on the grounds that the smut was recommended by Larry Flynt. Frankly, it is disgusting that our library cites the ALA as “authority” for anything.

The Policy and its implementation are an insult to Blount County residents. Surely supporting the BCPL to the tune of $2 million (or more) each year should entitle Blount County residents to a meaningful voice in the selection of books in the public library, or at least an objection process that is not a charade. At present, taxpayers are ignored and their objections fall on deaf ears. The Policy is an illusory remedy—a fool’s errand. We deserve better.

As our elected representatives, you provide the only accountability for the operation of the BCPL. We ask you to demand that the BOT adopt a policy that protects the values of Blount County residents.

Footnotes

  1.  “The mission of the Blount County Public Library is to provide library materials in all formats for the   citizens of Blount County in order that the quality of their lives may be enhanced by providing: 1) the information needed to be successful participants in the community in order to make informed decisions affecting their lives, 2) opportunities for young children to develop an interest in reading and learning, and 3) recreational and cultural opportunities.” Bylaws of the BCPL BOT, Art. I, Section 1.2.
  2. “The board has the authority to direct all the affairs of the library, including the authority to appoint a library administrator. The library administrator shall direct the internal affairs of the library, including hiring and directing such assistants or employees as may be necessary. The board may make and enforce rules and regulations and establish branches of service at its discretion.” TCA 10-3-104.
  3. We do not wish to intrude into the personal lives of BCPL staff members, but Ms. Tarwater herself contributed her intimate narrative to a 2021 book entitled LIS Interrupted: Intersections of Mental Illness and Library Work. A review of the book, posted on the Internet, states that  “Chelsea Tarwater talks about her depression while working as the Youth Services Specialist at Blount County Public Library and working on her MLS while living as a gay woman in a conservative environment.” It appears that Ms. Tarwater is aware that her sexual orientation is outside of the mainstream in Blount County.
  4. A summary of some of the titles catalogued in the children’s section (as noted by the designation “J”) is set forth below. This list is based on a cursory search of the children’s section and does not include YA (young adult) or adult titles:

Counting Scars, by Melinda Di Lorenzo. J TEA (connotes “teacher resources”) Rapid Reads. Fictional story about a 16-year-old in youth reform camp because her mother is in rehab and her father is absent. The rear cover summarizes as follows: “Sixteen-year-old Adele Reimer is forced to spend two weeks at a youth reform camp. With her mother in rehab and her estranged father unable to take immediate custody, Adele’s only goal is to avoid any trouble. But then she meets mysterious Fergus and charming Andy. Soon Adele finds herself pulled into a complicated love triangle—and a dangerous situation that might end up costing her life.” This is not exactly the Hardy Boys. The book contains words such as “shit,” “bitch,” and the “f” word and features teenage drinking, arson, shoplifting, death, addiction, drug overdoses, fighting, and other dark themes. In the children’s section.

Small Town Pride, by Phil Stamper. J.  Stamper is identified as “an author of ‘queer books for kids and teens.’” The book’s inside cover describes the plot: an openly-gay schoolboy in rural Ohio wants to plan the town’s first gay pride festival.  The town’s residents, of course (led by a local pastor), are opposed because they are narrow-minded bigots.  With the help of a closeted “bi” classmate (on whom the protagonist has a crush), and the solidarity of an online LGBTQ community, the intrepid hero overcomes the odds…. Therapy, a gay-friendly pastor, and a pride festival solve all the student’s problems. Total pro-LGBTQ propaganda.

I Am Jazz, by Jessica Herthel & Jazz Jennings. J 306.768 HER. (2014) Picture book for “young readers.” For ages 4-8; grades pre-school to grade 3. The main character in this fictional story is a child who was born a male but believes he is female. A “transgender,” in other words, based on the real-life experience of one of the authors. This is presented as normal. The boy is allowed to change his name, wear dresses to school, grow his hair long, use the girls’ restroom, and play on girls’ sports teams. All of this is presented as normal. The book promotes the work of the TransKids Purple Rainbow Foundation. About the authors: “Jessica Herthel is a private consultant for LGBTQ-inclusive school districts and the current president of her local PFLAG chapter. Previously, Jessica was the Education Director of the Stonewall National Museum and Archives in Fort Lauderdale, Florida; the primary editor of an LGBTQ handbook for school administrators; and a curriculum advisor for Broward County Public Schools.  Jessica is a graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Law School.
 
Jazz Jennings is a trans woman, YouTube celebrity, spokesmodel, activist, and author of the memoir Being Jazz.” 

The Other Boy, by M.G. Hennessey. J. This is a fictional story about a 12-year-old girl who is transgender, i.e., believes she is a boy. The protagonist is already on hormone blockers. Testosterone shots are next. This is presented as normal. Much drama involves disputes between the child’s divorced parents. The mother supports “transitioning,” whereas the father (depicted as the insensitive bad guy) does not.

Different Kinds of Fruit, by Kyle Lokoff. J. Fiction containing themes of drag queens, pride events, “intolerant” parents. The female protagonist, a sixth grader, meets a new classmate who is “nonbinary” (pronouns: they/them). This is presented as normal.

Pride: An Inspirational History of the LGBTQ+ Movement, by Stella Caldwell. J. Pro-LGBTQ propaganda, with discussion of AIDS, sodomy, homosexual activism, same-sex marriage, transgenders, and much more. “The 1940s and 1950s were a dark period for the LGBTQ+ community.”

Obie is Man Enough, by Schuyler Bailar. J. Fictional story about a female, Sarah, who wants to compete in swimming as a male named Obie. This is presented as normal (and ignores that most “transgender” athletes are males wishing to compete as females).

Pride Colors, by Robin Stevenson. J 306.766. (2019) Picture book promoting LGBTQ themes (“Love who you choose”) with illustrations showing same-sex parents. Rainbow motif. “Robin Stevenson is the award-winning author of many novels for kids and teens. Pride: Celebrating Diversity & Community is her first nonfiction book. Robin has been part of the LGBTQ community since she was a young adult and has been taking part in Pride celebrations for thirty years. She lives on the west coast of Canada with her partner, Cheryl, and their twelve-year-old son.” http://orcabook.com/pride/author.html Also the author of Pride: Celebrating Diversity & Community.

It Feels Good to be Yourself: A Book About Gender Identity, by Theresa Thorn. J 305.3 THO. The cover description sums it up: “Some people are boys. Some people are girls. Some people are both, neither, or somewhere in between.” The idea is reinforced that people can “decide” their “gender identity.” Biology doesn’t matter. Cisgender, non-binary, transgender, intersex, pronouns, etc. “You might feel like your gender identity changes from day to day.” All of this is presented as normal.

True You: A Gender Journey, by Gwen Agna and Shelley Rotner. J 305.3 AGNA.Picture book promoting gender fluidity. Gender identity can change at whim, even in the course of one day! Pushes “therapeutic support.” Transgender propaganda.

Pink, Blue and You!, by Elise Gravel. J. 305.3.  (2022)“Questions for kids about gender stereotypes.” Promotes LGBTQ themes, vernacular, pronouns, etc. Belief in biological sex is characterized as “not believing that all humans should have the same rights.” Pro-LGBTQ propaganda.

Sewing the Rainbow, by Gayle Pitman. J.Published by the American Psychological Association (!). Glorifies the homosexual activist who created the LGBTQ “rainbow flag.” The “gay rights” movement is depicted as a liberation from the suffocating conformity of “traditional White middle-class heterosexual nuclear families.” Pro-LGBTQ propaganda.

George, by Alex Gino. J. Another fictional story (by an author who uses the pronoun “their”) about a fourth-grade boy named George who “identifies” as a girl. Similar plot to The Other Boy, although at an earlier age. Published by Scholastic Press. The notion that a biological male could, at a very young age, decide to be a girl is presented as normal. Pro-LGBTQ (and in particular pro-transgender) propaganda. 

It’s Perfectly Normal, by Robie H. Harris and Michael Emberly. J 613.907.1 This is a non-fiction sex education book originally published 25+ years ago but recently (2021) “updated for today’s kids and teens.” The cover says it is “for age 10 and up.” It contains explicit sexual graphics, an entire chapter on LGBTQ, descriptions of anal and oral sex, etc. BCPL’s copy is stamped “Ocoee River Regional Library, Athens, TN.”

The Meaning of Pride, by Rosiee Thor (“came out as queer”) and Sam Kirk (“a biracial, queer woman”). J 306.76 (2022) This is a non-fiction picture book described as an “inspiring celebration of the LGBTQ+ community throughout history.” It focuses on June as “Pride Month.” “Pride means running toward a better future.” The images display men dressed in drag, same-sex couples hugging, and captions stating that “Pride means fighting for your rights” and “Respect Trans People.”  Promotes the mythology of Harvey Milk. This is unabashed pro-LGBTQ propaganda. BCPL’s copy is stamped “Ocoee River Regional Library, Athens, TN.”

If You’re a Kid Like Gavin: The True Story of a Young Trans Activist, by Gavin Grimm and Kyle Lokoff. J 306.76 (2022) Ages 4-8. This is a non-fiction picture book about a young girl (a “kid”) who “decides” she is a boy. She calls herself “Gavin,” dresses like a boy, and uses the boy’s restroom. When students at her school object to this, their disapproval is depicted as “bullying,” which “terrified” and “embarrassed” her. She complains to the ACLU, who takes up her cause. Using the opposite sex’s bathroom is depicted as a “basic” right, not something controversial or implicating the privacy rights of other students. The book is an overtly pro-trans tract written by a self-described “trans activist.” Also an advertisement for the ACLU. BCPL’s copy is stamped “Ocoee River Regional Library, Athens, TN.”

This Day in June, by Gayle Pitman. Easy (for young children). (2014) This is a non-fiction picture book celebrating Gay Pride month. The illustrations depict men dressed as nuns, men dressed in drag, kids waving rainbow flags, dykes on bikes, and same-sex couples embracing and kissing, with captions such as “Loving kisses so delicious” and text proclaiming “Born this way” and “Loves beat hate.” This book was inscribed by the author “to the Blount County Public Library” and a bookplate indicates that it was presented to the BCPL by the Maryville Kiwanis Foundation. Pure propaganda. https://www.maryvillekiwanis.org/uploads/9/7/5/7/97578524/il_powerpoint_021120.pdf

The Stonewall Riots, by Archie Bongiovanni. J 306.76609747 (2022) “History comics”/graphic novel that is an admittedly “not 100 percent true” account of the so-called Stonewall Riots in NYC in 1969. LGBTQ is presented in a very positive light, and opposition is depicted as oppression. The Stonewall Riots constituted “liberation.” Police officers are referred to as “pigs.” Pro-LGBTQ propaganda.

Families Today: LGBT Families, by H.W. Poole. J 306.8740 (2017) Non-fiction book for young readers (ages 8-12) in a series explaining various types of “non-traditional” families. Gender is depicted as subjective; “transgender” and “gender fluid” are presented as normal; same-sex marriage by judicial fiat (Obergefell) is equated to desegregation in Brown v. Board of Education, etc. Opposition to LGBTQ is described as “prejudice” and “discrimination,” with the suggestion that the Bible doesn’t really disapprove of homosexuality. The same publisher (Mason Crest) has a host of other LGBTQ titles. http://www.masoncrest.com/site/index.php/contemporary-issues-4510/lgbtq-life-1.html and http://printmattersinc.com/living-proud-growing-up-lgbtq

Jack (Not Jackie), by Erica Silverman. J EASY (2018) Picture book for pre-readers. A portion of the proceeds of the sale of this book, which was a “proud partnership” between GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) and Bonnier Publishing, “will be donated to accelerating LGBTQ acceptance.” The author is described on the back cover as a librarian and author who lives in Los Angeles “with her wife.” The story, told from the perspective of an older sister, concerns a younger sibling born as a female (Jackie), but who decides at an early age that she prefers to dress as a boy, play boy’s games, and be called Jack instead of Jackie. Jackie gets her hair cut short. She declares that she is a boy. The sibling initially is disappointed that her little sister has “become” a boy, but she accepts it, and voila, Jackie is magically transformed into a boy. A transgender propaganda narrative. Bears the stamp “Ocoee River Regional Library,” Athens.

In Our Mothers’ House, by Patricia Polacco. J EASY (2009) This picture book is rated for ages 6-8; grades 1-3. Fictional story of two lesbians who adopt several children. From the School Library Journal: “The narrator, a black girl, describes how her two Caucasian mothers, Marmee and Meema, adopted her, her Asian brother, and her red-headed sister. She tells about the wonderful times they have growing up in Berkeley, CA. With their large extended family and friends, they celebrate Halloween with homemade costumes, build a tree house, organize a neighborhood block party, and host a mother-daughter tea party. The narrator continually reinforces the affectionate feelings among her mothers and siblings, and the illustrations depict numerous scenes of smiling people having a grand time. Most of the neighbors are supportive, except for one woman who tells Marmee and Meema, ‘I don’t appreciate what you two are.’… Is this an idealized vision of a how a gay couple can be accepted by their family and community? Absolutely.” The only neighbor who disapproves of two lesbians raising adopted children is depicted as a mean bigot. The story explains that the objecting neighbor “is full of fear” and has “no love in her heart.”  

5. The Policy states that: “BCPL assumes responsibility for encouraging children to develop an interest in and appreciation for the Library’s resources. Nevertheless, BCPL does not assume the parental role in youth reading development or censoring any Library material. Selection of Library materials will not be restrained by the possibility that such materials may inadvertently come into contact with children.

Materials in the Youth Services collection are purchased with the idea that young readers are the influential adults of tomorrow. Therefore, the collection makes every attempt to satisfy the recreational, cultural and informational needs of youths from infancy through young adulthood.” (Emphasis added.)

The “Library Bill of Rights” and the “Freedom to Read Statement,” both developed by the ALA, assert prerogatives no other branch of government claims. Teachers don’t get to teach whatever they want in the classroom. They are constrained by curricula guidelines, policies, and protocols imposed by the school board and state legislature. Police officers don’t get to decide what the speed limit is. They enforce laws passed by the politically-accountable branches. The property assessor doesn’t decide the property tax rate; that is set by the County Commission. Library employees are civil servants, not self-appointed community guardians or surrogate parents. Library employees should not have exclusive control over the selection of taxpayer-funded books in the BCPL.

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