Two parents in West Chicago, Illinois want the LGBTQIA-themed children’s picture book This Day in June by Gayle Pitman removed from the local public library, and the anti-gay Illinois Family Institute is encouraging supporters to attend a library board meeting tonight in support of the challenge. The book is one of two that survived a challenge in Hood County, Texas, in 2015.
In a post on the IFI website, the organization’s John Biver wrote that the book about the experience of attending a Pride Parade is “filled with pro-LGBTQIA (etc.) propaganda presented through symbols and messages.” Ironically though, he also admits in the first few sentences that Michaela Jaros, who is challenging the book along with her husband Kurt, was able to “utilize her mothering skills and answer her daughter’s question without providing a sex ed lesson on the spot” when the three-year-old came across it on a recent visit to the West Chicago Public Library.
Of course there is no reason that any child should require a sex ed lesson to understand This Day in June, a book about people of all ages happily attending a parade. The Jaros family obviously does not agree with the reason for that parade, but in the moment they apparently took the logical action when encountering a concept for which they don’t think their child is ready: offer an age-appropriate explanation, then return the book to the shelf and find something else to read.
But Kurt Jaros, who runs an evangelical media network and has just launched a new political action committee, was not content for This Day in June to remain available for other families in West Chicago. In a flyer posted on his Brushfire PAC’s website, he used photos from the 2009 Chicago Pride Parade to imply that the book celebrates “explicit nudity of the genitals, sexual acts, gender dysphoria (‘transgenderism’), and sadistic & masochistic interactions (whips, chokers, dominance).” Apart from affirming the existence of transgender people, however, the actual illustrations from the book that are also included on the flyer show nothing of the sort.
In his effort to gin up support for the challenge, Jaros also received an assist from the egregiously misnamed Illinois Family Institute as mentioned above. Allow us to repeat what we said the last time that organization targeted LGBTQIA-themed children’s books in libraries:
If [IFI’s Laurie] Higgins cannot find books in libraries to counterbalance these, she’s not looking too hard. The vast majority of children’s books still depict opposite-sex parents and their biological children, but no one has ever claimed that The Berenstain Bears series contains any whiff of “perversion” or heteroeroticism. No matter how much Higgins wishes that same-sex parents didn’t exist, the fact is that they do, and if anything, their children deserve to see their families represented in more books.
Jaros and IFI have encouraged supporters of his challenge to This Day in June to attend the library board meeting tonight, but thankfully their censorship advocacy will not go unopposed: the ACLU of Illinois has alerted its followers on Facebook, and an event invitation for people supporting the book shows over 30 who definitely plan to attend and about 100 more who are interested.
The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. CT tonight, August 28, at the West Chicago Public Library, 118 W. Washington St, West Chicago, IL 60185. Members of the public wishing to offer comments of up to three minutes per person may do so if they sign in on arrival, but the comment period is limited to 30 minutes total and names are called in the order on the signup sheet. Attendees may want to refer to the library’s collection development policy, as well as favorable reviews of This Day in June from Publishers Weekly and School Library Journal.
Contributing Editor Maren Williams is a reference librarian who enjoys free speech and rescue dogs.