Dear Friend of the Family,
Last week, the MA Legislature held a hearing on a bill that would ban “book banning” by public libraries. Supporters argued the bill is necessary because the freedom to read is under attack across the country – in particular, the freedom for children to read pornographic, LGBTQ-themed books like “Genderqueer” and “Flamer.” The content of these books is so graphic that I can’t in good conscience describe it here but suffice it to say that if you were to go up to someone on the street and show them some of the illustrations they contain, you could be locked up for possessing child pornography.
Yet, as librarians and others testified in support of this bill, the legislators running the hearing praised them for their courage and commitment to telling the stories of LGBTQ youth. The author of “Flamer” even made an appearance, testifying about why the pornographic story that he penned was necessary to help overcome “stigmas and hatred” toward gay and lesbian kids. He argued that the “book banners” take sexually explicit passages of books like his out of context to get them taken off the shelves. In response to such a statement, you might ask, “In what context is it appropriate to expose kids to graphic sexual illustrations depicting minors?” But none of the legislators thought to ask this question. Nor did they inquire about why it was necessary to expose kids to pornography in order to tell “LGBTQ stories.”
At the end of the hearing, I testified on behalf of MFI to try to set the record straight on a few things. I pointed out that the proposed bill only prohibits libraries from removing books for “partisan or doctrinal” reasons but would still allow them to remove books because they are vulgar and inappropriate for minors. I also highlighted that the Supreme Court has held that schools and libraries can get rid of sexually explicit books to protect kids. And I emphasized that the parents who are trying to get these books off the shelves are not doing so because they are “homophobic,” “transphobic,” or racist, but because they care about the innocence of their children. My main goal was to raise awareness that even if this bill passes, it won’t prevent libraries with common sense from removing pornographic books from their shelves.
If you have concerns about sexually explicit content in your local school or public library, we would love to hear from you. Don’t let anyone tell you that your child’s school or local library is legally required to expose kids to pornographic materials – that isn’t true, as we explain in this informational brief (see the Spanish version here). If you want to learn more about what books to watch out for in the library, check out this Parental Advisory Book list created by Massachusetts Informed Parents.
The sad reality today is that LGBTQ activists, including many of our legislators and librarians, will label you a “book banner” if you stand up for the innocence of children. At MFI, we will always stand up with you against these attacks, as we work together to protect our kids from harm.
For our families,
Sam Whiting, Staff Attorney