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As reported in the Daily Oklahoman [free registration required], The Oklahoma House of Representatives has approved HB2158, which will require all Oklahoma libraries to pull books with "homosexual" and "sexually explicit" subject matter from the children's and young adult collections. I've reported on this before [2/10, 3/11, 3/11, 3/15]. For a sense of what the debate looks like, this is a quote from the sponsor of the bill:
"Libraries and librarians should not be usurping the role of parents," Kern said. "You can't sell toothpaste without sex. Our society is obsessed with sex. And I will tell you this, the American Library Association is out to sexualize our children."
And here's another opinion:
Rep. Glen Bud Smithson, D-Sallisaw, opposed the bill because it doesn't give libraries an appeals process to fight a loss of funding. He likened the bill to legislation Osama bin Laden likely would support, saying "that is the way they do it over there. They teach them what they want to teach them and nothing else."
The bill goes on to the Senate now.
The Oklahoma House is set to vote on a finalized version of HB2158. The full text of the bill includes new changes:
1.B.1 "Homosexual subject mater [sic]" means content that relates to the recruiting and advocating of same gender sexual relationships...
1.B.2 "Sexually explicit subject matter" means content that describes or depicts sexual conduct... in specific and graphic detail so that a prurient interest in sex is promoted. Sexually explicit subject matter shall not mean content that merely mentions or references sexual conduct....
The law also includes a new section creating a State Library Material Content Advisory Board, which, "...shall annually develop a recommended list of child and young adult materials that contain homosexual or sexually explicit subject matter..." to be segregated within the library. This board will include two Representatives, two Senators, four parents, and four teachers, chosen by the legislative leadership.
There is still no provision for the enormous expense of issuing new library cards to every patron in the state, nor of constructing "...a special area of the library which is separate and apart from the children and young adult sections of the library..." in every public library building.
Note earlier LISNews coverage
Emily Bazelon Just Had Another Boy. The conventional educational wisdom holds that boys don't like to read about girls. If a book has a girl on the cover, it's toast, no matter how adventure-filled or well written. And this isn't a phenomenon of puberty.
To her relief, she found that most advocates of boy reading aren't so narrow-minded. They are not trying to direct boys toward a list of masculine titles;in fact, they're refreshingly skeptical about assigned reading in the first place. Instead, their aim is to enliven the standard fare for both genders. What they have discovered is that many boys like so-called "girl" books, but for different reasons than girls do.
In an update to the story I posted earlier today, the Tulsa City-County Library has added a page of links about the legislation to its website. It includes links to the current text of the bill and the relevant statutes, but also has TCCL's official position statement. The library commission's chairman has this to say:
The public library distributes books and other media which are broadly representative of human thought. In a diverse, pluralistic democracy not everyone will believe or like what they read. Library materials are representative of all social, political, religious and cultural points of views. Homosexuality is a reality. What would prevent other topics of reality from becoming off limits to young people who are free citizens entitled to free exercise of speech and thought?
Oklahoma libraries also gained an ally in one of the state's major newspapers. The Daily Oklahoman published an editorial on Friday condemning the legislation.
We find it ironic that the bill said each policy should "reflect the contemporary community standard of the community the library is located in." In putting the bill on a path to becoming law, lawmakers are taking away such local control and substituting it with their judgment. It's not the Legislature's job to tell libraries which books to stock and where to put them. Local library boards are capable of making decisions on whether restricted access is necessary.
As noted in an earlier LISNews story, the Oklahoma State Legislature is working on a bill to segregate library materials in all state libraries. As widely reported, the relevant text is as follows:
The Oklahoma Department of Libraries Board shall not grant or distribute any state funds that are allocated to libraries on a formula basis to any library, library district, or library system unless the library has taken action to place all children and young adult books and materials that contain homosexual or sexually explicit heterosexual subject matter in an adult or special area in the library and the library has a policy in place to limit distribution of such books and material to adults only.
A version of the House bill, called a "Committee Substitute" has passed the state House Appropriations and Budget Committee. This bill is even broader than the previous version, expanding the blocked funding sources beyond ODL to include municipalities and individual library boards. It also includes requirements for annual reporting. There's no good way to link to the text of the Committee Substitute, so I've included the full text below the cut.
One of the first objections to the original bill was that it didn't define "sexually explicit subject matter". The new text blocks that objection by basing the definition on existing law, specifically Section 1024.1 of Title 21 of the Oklahoma Statutes. That reads, in part:
3. "Sexual conduct" means and includes any of the following:
a. acts of sexual intercourse including any intercourse which is normal or perverted, actual or simulated,
b. acts of deviate sexual conduct, including oral and anal sodomy,
c. acts of masturbation,
Take just a moment and imagine the monumental task of deciding which materials in even a small library collection match that definition. Then imagine that you have to build a physical structure in your small rural library to bar access to these items for your young patrons. Whatever your views on homosexuality or children's rights to read, this bill creates a logistical nightmare and a terrible monetary burden on every library in the state of Oklahoma. -- Read More
A children's book based on a true story about a pair of male penguins adopting an egg has been removed from the library over parental concerns about homosexuality. The illustrated book, "And Tango Makes Three," is based on a story of penguins Roy and Silo, who adopted an abandoned egg at New York City's Central Park Zoo in the late 1990s.
The book, written by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson, was moved from the children's section at two Rolling Hills' Consolidated Library's branches in Savannah and St. Joseph in northwest Missouri. Two parents had expressed concerns about the book last month. Here's the report .
Barbara Read, the Rolling Hills'(MO) director, said experts report that adoptions aren't unusual in the penguin world. However, moving the book to the nonfiction section would decrease the chance that it would "blindside" readers, she said.
A recent Miami Herald story lists 8 tips on jump-starting your reluctant male reader, but begins with possibly the best tip of all:
Parents of boys may have heard that raising an eager reader isn't easy. In spite of stereotypes that suggest boys are less likely than girls to be engaged readers, literacy experts suggest this doesn't have to be the case.
In fact, according to William G. Brozo, Ph.D., professor of literacy at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., these stereotypes can interfere with the ability of boys to develop a lifelong love of reading. And he urges parents not to adopt what he describes a potentially "self-fulfilling prophecy."
Chelsea Gerhard, of Matthews NC, created an Authors' Quilt for her Girl Scout Gold Award project. Her presentation, titled "Write Me a Quilt," tells about the authors who contributed squares to her quilt as well as advice on contacting favorite authors.
Determined and persistent, Chelsea heard back from Laura Numeroff, Lemony Snickett, Beverly Cleary, Clive Barker and first lady Laura Bush. Chelsea says, "I've already received my Gold Award, but I want to take this quilt as far as I can. I hope to be a librarian, and I plan to continue doing programs with the quilt," Chelsea said. Story from the Charlotte Observer .
Canada's biggest school board is considering a report that would allow Grade 6 students free access in school to a controversial children's book on conflict in the Middle East.
But Grade 4 and 5 students at the Toronto District School Board would need a note certifying their parents are aware they're reading the book, Three Wishes, before they would be allowed to check it out of the library.
Ellis L. Marsalis III, author, photographer and brother of Wynton and Branford, is organizing an effort to provide books to a library at the Lusher Charter School in New Orleans, LA. Now a resident of Baltimore, Marsalis plans on driving a truck full of books to New Orleans, leaving this weekend. He also plans to help bring a computerized circulation system, shelves and other material to rebuild the school's library.