CBLDF Fights for LGBTQIA Kids Books Under Attack

Lily and Dunkin coverCBLDF and Kids’ Right to Read Project, are standing up with the Andover Public Librarians and imploring them to continue to protect the First Amendment right of all of their patrons. Back in September, a patron of the Andover Library complained about LGBTQIA books, specifically citing I am Jazz, Lily and Dunkin, and George by Alex Gino, being in with the rest of the kids’ books. The library followed their procedures and convened a committee which ultimately decided against removing the books from the kids’ section. The patron has appealed this decision, and now another meeting is scheduled for February 13, 2019.

National Coalition Against Censorship writes,

In requesting reconsideration, the community member emphasizes the library’s “moral responsibility” to “protect children from this kind of reading” and criticizes Andover Library for “exposing to things that are not age appropriate, and [pinning] the responsibility to parents and say it’s up to them to monitor what their children read [sic].”

It is crucial that libraries offer access to a broad diversity of ideas and foster open exchange of perspectives. Libraries should strongly resist efforts by any individual or group to impose their own subjective ideas of morality on the general public.

With regard to shelving, Andover Library has many nonfiction picture books, which are usually shelved with picture books. According to the library’s youth services manager, Jennifer Clark, “We have many (nonfiction) picture books — we have a Martin Luther King picture book, we have a Revolutionary War picture book — all about factual events. But they are illustrated, they have a certain word count, they are geared toward a certain audience. The same way I am Jazz is.”

After the initial complaint, I am Jazz was moved from the picture books to the nonfiction section, with other books concerning “institutions pertaining to relations of the sexes” according to its Dewey Decimal system number. To some, this may seem like a simple thing, but making it more difficult to find books like I am Jazz they are depriving kids who might connect with the character or book from a chance to discover it on their own.

The KRRP letter to Andover Library, Board of Directors President Linda Schiller, explains,

Far too many young LGBTQ people do feel different and marginalized, placing them
at heightened risk of mental illness. It is especially important that young people
who feel stigmatized and silenced do not face additional obstacles in finding books
that reflect their experiences and lead them towards hope and self-acceptance.
The suppression of LGBTQ books further marginalizes a vulnerable minority group.
It creates a toxic culture in public spaces, especially the library where everyone
should be equally welcome and guaranteed freedom to read, think and explore new
We praise your original decision in this case and urge you to continue to adhere to
your established challenge procedures, which helps educate your patrons on the
importance of your policies of free expression and nondiscrimination. To assist you,
we gladly share the attached information guide on defending the freedom to read
LGBTQ books.

You can read the full text of the letter below:

KRRP Letter to Andover Libr… by on Scribd