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Take steps to protect our kids from eyebrow-raising library materials

 
March 26, 2022

A few weeks ago I learned that parents across the nation are trying to ban certain library materials. Some of these materials really raised my eyebrows. These materials have words, photos and videos with sex and even racism. The alarming part is how the library will allow any age to check these items out. Luckily, most on the list of questionable materials were not in our library, but a couple were!

I cross referenced the available titles to a website called commonsensemedia.org. This site rates materials so that parents can feel good about the entertainment choices for their children.

Our library has a book called "The Kite Runner," which has graphic stories of shooting, stoning, suffocation, suicide and a detailed homosexual rape which later the rapist flaunts his power by fondling the child in front of an adult. It also mentioned drug and alcohol usage and contains offensive words. The book called "The Bluest Eye" talks about rape of an 11-year-old. In the book, the rapist talks about how be believes the rape was an act of love. The book also describes child abuse, how the father chased a man with a shotgun, fighting, setting a house on fire, abuses their pet and shares an opinion on how mixed race kids are prettier than black kids. The author seems to have violent anger towards light skin kids. Sex, pedophilia and prostitution are mentioned, along with strong language.

"Better Nate Than Ever" tells of a father’s affair with strippers and other sexual people, porn magazines and alcohol and drug usage. It also contains a variety of derogatory terms used to describe alternative sexual lifestyles.

I spoke to the library director and she told me that she will not censor checkouts regardless of the person's age. We talked about a book named "Gender Queer." She advised me that the library doesn’t have this book, but she said she has no problem ordering it if a patron were to request it.

She told me it would be placed in the graphic novel section, which she would rate for 10 years and up.

This book has drawings of a strap on penis, vibrator, oral sex, sexual words and more. Then I asked her if a six year old can check out a rated R movie; she said yes.

Did you know that the library has movies like "American Beauty," which shows child abuse, murder, adult and teen sex with visuals of body parts and lots of swearing, including racist slurs?

We really don’t need to go through each movie since they have a rating on each DVD case.

Our library has programs for young children, like story time and summer reading. Some of these programs have prizes to encourage young readers to participate. It is my opinion that the library wants young readers to come and explore.

The library is supposed to be fun. As parents, we love seeing our children walking around to find that perfect book or movie. But some parents may not feel comfortable allowing their children to wander around. How is a mother going to hover over all six children and enjoy the experience?

I get that a teenager should know right from wrong, but how about a 10-year-old wandering in the graphic novel section just to find "Gender Queer?"

Is that child going to understand they should put that book down? Was the mother hovering over him to verify if those photos are appropriate?

This library is supposed to be for everyone. We all pay taxes and should have the right to enjoy the library. I asked the library director to brainstorm on how we can keep these books out of young children’s hands. I told the librarian that I don’t want to ban books because this library is for all to enjoy ... not just me.

I gave her an idea, like if a parent has a concern with an item, can the library check with the website commonsense.org or look at the movie rating and keep those items on items on high shelves? Or how about letting parents fill out a Reconsideration of Library Material form ... my friend thought a color sticker on the book or DVD might be helpful.

I don’t pretend to have the right answer and actually feel like maybe someone else may have a better one, but how about we have this discussion?

The library director said she wasn’t interested.

We are living in some strange times, not like the days I remember. When porn was not sold or displayed where young eyes can see it.

Idaho has enacted HB 666. This law will remove the exemption that the library and schools have been hiding behind which keeps them from being sued if inappropriate material gets in the wrong hands.

I wish that the library would quit hiding behind an exemption law and start taking action on ensuring a safe space. Because honestly, if the library would take some minor steps to keep these materials out of young people's hands, then the State of Idaho wouldn’t have to make laws to remove your exemption.

Please, let's have a discussion on how to keep these books out of young reader's hands so that parents can keep letting their children explore the library and participate in the reading programs our library offers.
Adrienne Norris
Bonners Ferry

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