Parents fight library's gay-themed books


An Anonymous Patron sends "this piece about parent concerns about books with gay characters available at the Mid-Columbia (WA) Library District from the Tri City Herald.

'Kristine Claybrook doesn't want to be surprised when she reads to her two children in the public library and finds gay-oriented characters or themes in a book.

"We feel the library should be a safe place for our children to browse without being exposed to this sort of lifestyle," said the 26-year-old mother. Her strong faith in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints anchors her and her family's values, she said.'"


The community is, of course, a factor in the lives of its members, including children--that's more or less what community means, after all. But that doesn't mean that parents don't have both the right and responsibility to make final decisions regarding their own children. The library should do its part by providing the widest possible range of materials for its patrons. Adults can each choose which of these materials are useful and which to ignore. And parents can make those same choices for their children.

Does this mean that one who opposes homosexuality is a bigot? I did not conduct a rally against gays, or write an editorial against gays, or anything else to create an intolerant climate for individual gay Americans. I respect the constitution. All I am saying is that how we view male and female relationship is crosscultural and is as old as the world. One cannot automatically make a relationship that is single gender mainstream with the wave of the wand. All I have ever said is that until professionals have universally said that single gender couples are a norm then it is still another matter. Advocating through books is taking the matter "to the streets" and that has never been a way to solve problems. I think that passionate advocacy for homosexual equality is not equated to the work of the civil rights movement. The individual gay American was never told to use a separate rest room, go to a separate school, or sit in the back of the bus. To compare the rights movements is an insult to the Rev. Martin Luther King.

not so long ago that to raise our children "It Takes a Village."

Why was it wrong? You said:

"A library should buy these books if they have people in their community who want them. Keeping them in a seperate section satifies the rest of the community who don't."

So, by your own words, it's OK to segregate books that the majority don't approve of others reading. I'm assuming it would have been just fine with you for people to segregate depictions of interracial relationships if the majority opposed them. Atthe time, in most places, interracial relationships were illegal! Following your logic, we would have a duty to protect our children from illegal behavior!

Eli: I'm going to assume you are not gay. Would you care to share why we should consider you an expert on what gay people have and have not suffered due to the attitudes of the Moral Majority?

Forgive me. I thought libraries were places where ideas in the form of books, newspapers and periodicals were "free" for anyone to explore. As a Black man, do "white power" books bother me? Yes, but I would never, ever think about removing them from the library.

We should be in the business of promoting the free exercise of ideas for adults and children, not slamming the library because one individual disagrees with the ideas in a book.

I'm not offended by the gay lifestyle. I think homosexuality is disgusting. Then again I think liver and onions is disgusting. I'm sure homosexuals really don't care what I think.

Yes I am a bigot, not just about homosexuals, but about people who choose to be stupid, people who are loud and obnoxious, people who smell bad in public.
I don't hit them, or call them names or treat them any differently than anyone else, but I wouldn't put them on my guest list for when the Pope comes over for lunch.

Big freaking deal, I am a bigot, so is everyone else they just make up nonsense reasons about lifestyle or social circle, or say "I do have a black friend."

Come off it you are all as bigoted as I am, and you all want books that mirror your opinion in the public library. Well, sorry its not going to happen.
If you don't want you kids reading about homosexuals, liberals, blacks, left-handed people, or any other group of freaks then go to the library with them and look at the books first.

See problem solved, now lets move on to something more difficult. We need to have world peace completed by the end of the week.

I respect your opinion however those white power books you mention are targeted for adults, not children.

Consider the local KKK chapter decision to introduce, "Why Blackies are Bad People", targeted specifically at the 4 to 8 demographic. Replete with lovable albeit racist characters, enticing illustrations and engaging storylines that depict negroes as shufflin' Stepin Fetchit's, porch monkeys, and a burden for good white folks.

Am I to understand that yourself and others on this board would embrace this book in their collections with the same passion for "tolerance" as the book in question here?

I love it when things get to this extreme. Compare a woman who wants books about homosexuals removed from the children's section of the library to Nazis.

I think it is really hilarious that people can blow things so far out of proportion.

I wonder how many survivors of the Holocaust; how many from the prison camps; now many observant Jews you have offended with that remark.

I am certain many people would give up their books before their lives. I know I would. I can rebuild my library, but once I am tortured, murdered, and creamated it is pretty much over.

You people really need to get a grip.

I'll take them all out for cocktails and a show !

I think it is a fair comparison. Nazis persecuted homosexuals too.

Hmm, persecuted, you mean systematically identified, detained, tortured and murdured. I guess we do that in the US.

Oh, wait the government doesn't murder people because of their religion or perversion in this country.

Thanks for reinforcing my view that the vast majority of Americans have no idea about history. I'm sure there is a group near your home who believes the Holocaust did not happen, if you can't find them look for the people who think the moon landing was faked, they generally are near one another in the half vacant strip mall. You should join up. Or you could go to the library and read a book about it. Ask the librarian for something authoratative though, you never know what trash they have in libraries these days.

I care what goes on in other people's bedrooms. People need to stop using that cliche. Rapes, murders, child molestations all occur in bedrooms too. So does a lot of sleeping I assume.

How about who cares what happens between consenting adults?

If it bothers you move to Utah or some place that shares your values.

  Why do people always think that because they practice a certain religion that gives them the right to impose their beliefs on everyone else? And, make no mistake, that's what's going on here. This Mormon mother wants the library "sanitized" so that it will be safe for kids.
No different than what the Nazis wanted in 1935. Burn all the books by the Jews so the good little Aryan boys and girls won't have their precious little minds polluted. Different place, different time, same old garbage.

Interesting that you bring up religion. It's been said that homosexuals don't deserve to be protected legally because they "choose to be gay" and they aren't born that way, like one is born a minority or a woman. Yet, when it comes to religion, which people freely change all the time, we give it the same level of legal protection that we do race, gender and age. Don't you consider that a bit of a double-standard?


I will not speak for others, just me as a librarian. Yes, I would advocate books like "little black sambo" or "Huck Finn" or books from ultra-conservatives/super liberals.

Having said that, I do not think that the gay themed book we are talking about had homo-erotic images or suggested that hetros were nasty people. Gay couples with children exist, to not have books that represent that fact of life is hiding your head in the sand.

By the way, BET was created because everything else was the equal of WET. MTV should have been called WMTV because they did not play any videos from Black artist until Billie Jean by Michael Jackson. (Perhaps they knew he was becoming white :) )

None of the gay-themed children books that I have seen depict straights as the equivalent of nasty racial stereotypes. Yet, that is what you analogy imples. Do you want to try again with that?

It says more about tome than anything that he equates books showing children of gay couples as the equivalent of books by the KKK with nasty racial stereotypes. It speaks volumes about your mentality sir.

I find this really amazing. The original poster has a valid point. The parent, who practices a certain philosophy, is insistent that the library, a public institution, cleanse its collection to conform to her philosophical beliefs. The poster's comparision to Nazis is right on. Then intolerance of the replies to the point of view is amazing.
What the woman is requesting is no different than what the communists did in Russia or Pol Pot in Cambodia or Mussolini in Italy or Hitler in Germany. In each case the state cleansed the libraries of views that disagreed with the dominant philosophy. In this case it is an individual not the state asking for the cleansing, but the idea stands.
The library is a public forum. No one individual has a right to insist that a publicly funded institution conform its collection to his or her personal philosophical values. I think that was the point the original poster was making -- before he or she was drowned out by bigots

I am a Fascist,(well a Phalangist) few people are truly Fascists. There is no Fascist party organized in the US. Although the Spanish Falangist party would be the closest thing.

While there were certainly abuses of Fascism, as an ideology it certainly surpasses any other - assuming the abuse can be stemmed.

Fascist is the word du jour to describe anyone who won't let someone do what they want: My teacher is a Fascist, she made me turn in my paper by the due date even though I had a cold; That guy wouldn't let me merge, Fascist; I can't get married to my same sex partner because of the Fascist government.

Many uninformed people use Fascist in ways totally inappropriate. There is nothing wrong with being a conservative, there is nothing wrong with being a Fascist. There are grave concerns about our society with its need to validate everyone and tolerate every behavior no matter how outrageous. Look at today's children as opposed to those from a generation ago. Basic literary and numerary skills that children posessed a generation ago are seldom found in many of today's children and teens. Someone needs to set some rules and standards. I think that Falangists (or Fascists) could do that, and be beneficial to workers, the elderly, the infirm and all members of society.

Some of us don't consider being called a Fascist a bad thing. We don't think the same way about liberal or socialist, terms applicable to some of the posters here.

I get no specific legal protection for being Zoroastoran or whatever religion I might be, nor do I get any specific protection if I choose to eschew religion. The protections granted on the basis of religion apply to everyone, both those who choose to practice and those who choose not to practice. You can't not be hired at Pizza Hut because you are agnostic.

Although many localities have passed laws that prohibit discrimination based on how people manipulate their genitals, there is no Federal protection for homosexuals, or for that matter heterosexuals.

There are Federal laws that protect people from discrimination based on their age, gender or race.

I am afraid I fail to see your point. I assume you thought you had one.

That being "tolerance" is a relative term. Each have you have responded with "intolerant" comments directed at me. I thank you all.

As for the last anon, my mentality is fine. Your inability to discern an analogy is not.

Some strange Mormon woman = Pol Pot

Some strange Mormon woman = Mussolini

Some strange Mormon woman = Hitler

Wow what a leap. Goofy woman who wants no gay books in the library, to genocidal dictator.

If I ever need something blown out of proportion I know who to call.


"All I have ever said is that until professionals have universally said that single gender couples are a norm then it is still another matter."

Well, since "professionals" almost never "universally say" ANYTHING, that's pretty much assuring that it will always be another matter. There are still "professionals" who believe miscegenation is a bad thing. So?

OK, I'll bite: I think that if you can demonstrate that citizens of a town UNIVERSALLY say that a book should be restricted, then probably it should be restricted. Good luck getting that kind of agreement.

"Advocating through books is taking the matter "to the streets" and that has never been a way to solve problems. "

A strange worldview. Most folks would consider advocacy through books to be a reasoned approach to advocacy, quite the opposite of taking it to the streets--and if books aren't one way to solve problems, we're really in the wrong field.

"The individual gay American was never told to use a separate rest room, go to a separate school, or sit in the back of the bus. To compare the rights movements is an insult to the Rev. Martin Luther King."

Shot, knifed, dragged behind trucks, beaten up. I guess those don't count.

>>None of the gay-themed children books that I have seen depict straights as the equivalent of nasty racial stereotypes.

Help me. How does one stay "tolerant" yet make personal value judgements as you have with...nasty racial stereotypes.

My point is this, we are ALL intolerant. At least most folks. It is simply a matter of where the line is being drawn as illustrated with your remarks here. Simple. You needn't read anymore into my analogy than this.

Can't add too much here but methinks she should avoid these books. The books are not obscene. They are not read at a forced story hour. She really should prepare before she starts reading the book to her kids.

Holy cow tomeboy, how do you even make it through the day being offended by so many other people? If I was that bothered by the outside world I think I'd just give up and hide in my basement.

Yep--right on!! The public is the "public" in "public library"!!

Even though internet filters are 90-90% effective, they can't block stealth librarians!!

Articles about stealth>

I have absolutely no problem with a parent that gets upset that her child has been exposed to this type of material. If she thinks it's inappropriate for her child, that's fine with me.

The problem is that she seems to think that it's inappropriate for all children. It seems to me that these books serve two purposes: teaching tolerance (or "acceptance", as Eli says), and validating experience. It seems to me that a title like "King and king" is primarily serving the "tolerance" mission, while "Heather has two mommies" is about vailidating the experience of a child that is different from everybody else that she knows.

In fact, the linked article even includes a quote from a city resident who is grateful for such library materials so that her daughter can see that two mommies isn't completely freakish.

Of course, the quoted pervert probably doesn't really live in such a normal conservative Christian community and was just parachuted in by the library system to provide a rationale for buying queer recruitment materials.

I'm sorry. I'm not sure what you mean by "their lifestyle." That's a mightily broad brush you're painting with, Eli. It's stereotyping of the worst sort, really. If you object to homesexuality, per se, come out and say it. Most gay people I know have lifestyles that are pretty similar to mine--they have jobs, stable, long-term relationships, some have children, some are devout Christians, some are teetotalers. I find nothing objectionable about this. If you are squeamish about books about the sex part of homosexuality portrayed in children's books, that's cool. But I've yet to see any family-themed books in any children's room that peek into mom and dad's (or mom and mom's) bedroom.

I also take issue with your statement that people in ethnic groups live "traditional family lives." What is a traditional family life? Whose tradition? I grew up in a heterosexual, two-parent family. I had a father who binge drank and was frequently late coming home or AWOL for days at a time. A nice guy and all, but no Ward Cleaver. My best friend grew up in a two-parent hetero house, but she got whipped with a belt and had a mother who was regularly unfaithful. Tell me, please, what a traditional family life is, and show me a one-block stretch anywhere in America where that standard exists or ever existed.

People can be offended by gay lifestyle and not be bigots.

How? In what possible way can you be intolerant and still not be bigoted? This issue isn't just about Ms. Claybrook's personal offense, it is about her intimating that the rest of us should be denied the opportunity to learn tolerance and to teach it to our children. That goes beyond the matter of being personally offended, and attempts to export that personal offence into society at large. A non-bigoted person who is offended by homosexuality can simply refrain from supporting homosexuals, and can even express their opinion about the subject without infringing on our right to access information about it. Non-bigots generally operate on a philosophy of live and let live. The intolerant do not, and the signs and symptoms of intolerance include attacking "hidden agendas".

My advice to Ms. Claybrook is that she:
1) Ask the librarian what books might contain homosexuality issues;

2) read prospective books for herself before reading them to her child;
3) find some tried and true books that don't contains such material and stick to them. Dr. Seuss, for instance, and the Berenstain Bears picture books.

Contrary to the popular consensus of reality among religious and political conservatives, there is no conspiracy to force this stuff on people against their will. Such social movements are the province of the ultra-conservative and intolerant themselves.

I don't have a dog in this fight, but I will say that if the insistence on gay rights causes a backlash that enables Bush to win reelection, I will not forgive those gay activists for a long time to come.

"People can be offended by gay lifestyle and not be bigots."

I am posting this quote so someone can moderate it as funny, surely Eli was making a joke, right?
Maybe we don't use the same dictionary, maybe in bizarro dictionary bigot means something different.

A library should buy these books if they have people in their community who want them. Keeping them in a seperate section satifies the rest of the community who don't.

We seperate children's books from adult's for a reason. There are some topics that should not be open and available to children without a parent being involved no matter how 'age-appropriate' its been written.

Society does tolerate homosexual behavior on an individual basis, as do libraries. But when that behavior begins to encroach on society, when it demands to be taught in schools, when it demands to be made a legitmate option as a family, a building block of society, then people have a right to take a stand against it.

Many of us believe that mothers and fathers matter and that model should be promoted above all else to ensure a strong and healthy community.

You as an individual are free to do as you wish up until it affects us as a whole. That is not bigoted it is society's self-preservation. Libraries answer to society not the individual.

This is very well put.

To look at it a slightly different way: isn't this really a parenting issue? Parents should by all means have control over what books, TV, etc. their young children are seeing. The mother in the article is holding the library responsible for something that is her own responsibility. If she doesn't want her children reading these books, fine. That's her right. The problem comes when she tries to make the library take over her parenting for her. It's not as though someone else is reading these books to her children against her will. If she is worried about content, she should read the books herself first before reading them to her children. It is not the library's responsibility to do parents' jobs for them.

  • I tolerate and am offended by senior citizens who feel entitled to seat themselves rather than wait at restaurants..
  • I tolerate and am offended by old women with broken down olfactory that reek of cheap potpourri.
  • I tolerate and am offended by senior citizen property tax breaks even though they are discriminatory.
  • I tolerate and am offended by local hip hoppers showing my 4 year old daughter the crack of their arse at the mall.
  • I tolerate and am offended by those physically challenged types that whip their cars into handicap parking spaces then proceed to run into the store.
  • I tolerate and am offended by BET (Black Entertainment Television), though any suggestion of WET is de facto racist. (no I don’t want WET)
  • I tolerate and am offended by Indian reservations as “tax freeâ€? zones.
  • I tolerate and am offended by gas guzzling Eddie Bauer Jeep drivers with bumper stickers admonishing me to save the rainforests.
  • I tolerate and am offended by by these same gas sucking Jeep drivers with bumper stickers telling me “No War for Oilâ€?.
  • I tolerate and am offended by men having no legal recourse in trying to save the life of their aborted child.
  • I tolerate and am offended by scholarships and jobs that use race as a fundamental criteria.
  • I tolerate and am offended by PC folks who practice tolerance to all groups but “knee jerk reactionariesâ€?.

    No, I’m not a racist, misogynist, senior basher, or gay hater.

    Don’t confuse tolerance with acceptance. Furthermore don’t twist intolerance with bigotry. You can hate the sin but love the sinner. Frankly I’m surprised the free thinking Fang has bought into the PC speak of bigot branding with “intolerance� labeling.

  • The issue is, "Is the library safe for my kids?"

    The parents who are complaining assert that it is not. Of the thousands of books that COULD be purchased for the library, the library decided that they should push this particular issue with these books--knowing full well that they were/are controversial.

    Parents, on the other hand, assume that their tax dollars are supporting a "safe" place for their kids to read and check out books. In this case, it is not... for them.

    Right on!! Who cares what happens in someone else's bedroom, but to push it upon the remainder of society -- as this particular issue is so widely promoted -- does bring opposition.

    People seem to think that it is wrong for parents to be concerned about this issue. The issue goes beyond purchase of books that support a lifestyle the problem is that the books are aimed at children to accept that lifestyle. There are two different issues, civil rights and agenda issues. In terms of civil rights, no American has a right to discriminate agianst anyone and deprive them of their rights. Gay people should not be attacked, or discriminated against in places like the work place, public services, etc. The problem is acceptance of their lifestyle. People are against gay life style not in the same way they are against ethnic groups. Vietnamese, Cambodians, and African Americans live traditional family lives. Gay lifestyle is still open to debate. The two are not comparable. What is objectionable is the attempt to create a "situation on the ground" of acceptance. People can be offended by gay lifestyle and not be bigots. It is not the job of libraries to force feed the issue.

    "isn't this really a parenting issue?"

    NOT REALLY. Sure, parents should, and can, and do, monitor their children's reading habits--otherwise this mother would have never known her child had this book.

    But again, the issue is "safety". If the "public" library is not a safe place for the "public", then it is no longer a "public" library but a library OF, BY, AND FOR the special interests of the librarians who run it.

    "The issue is, "Is the library safe for my kids?"... fair 'nuff, let's go with that as an issue.

    Then my question is, how does this book make it unsafe for my kids? Or I suppose, in this case, how does this book make it unsafe for your kids?

    >>A library should buy these books if they have people in their community who want them.

    I'd be surprised if there is a "community" anywhere in America that would be completely against any one book. Would you have us suffer from the tyranny of the majority, or worse, the vocal minority in all collection development decisions? Many, MANY books will offend, I'd say it's almost impossible to avoid NOT offending someone. Just because this is the most offensive issue to some Christian's now doesn't mean libraries should avoid it.

    >>Keeping them in a separate section satisfies the rest of the community who don't.
    Are you really advocating for separate sections in libraries based on who would be offended by the content? Christian books on the right side of the library, everything else on the left perhaps?
    >>We separate children's books from adult's for a reason. There are some topics that
    >> should not be open and available to children without a parent being involved no
    >> matter how 'age-appropriate' its been written.
    I disagree, there will be NO topics available to MY kids without me being involved.
    >> Society does tolerate homosexual behavior on an individual basis, as do libraries.
    >> But when that behavior begins to encroach on society, when it demands to be taught
    >> in schools, when it demands to be made a legitimate option as a family, a building
    >> block of society, then people have a right to take a stand against it.
    "IT?" Run, hide, IT'S coming! IT'S after us!

    In this case, it is not... for them.

    The library is one of the most dangerous government buildings that's open to the public.

    "I disagree, there will be NO topics available to MY kids without me being involved."

    That's highly unlikely. Its not possible to protect children from everything. No filter is perfect, not even the parent filter. But we still use the filters for a reason.

    And yes "It" is.

    bigot: a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices

    I'm trying to understand your application of the word "bigot" to Eli's quote. Do you have a definition of "bigot" in mind similar to M-W one above? Would the above definition be sufficient to consider those who object to homosexuality "bigots"?

    Last time I checked gays & lesbians were a part of the "public" that public libraries serve. Therefore those "special interests" are actually interests of that segment of the community.

    It IS a parenting issue, and this woman does NOT have the right to parent any child but her own (or those she has legal guardianship over). She has no right to parent or censor what my child reads. I do. (Okay I would if I had any.) Where does it stop? What if she objected to interracial marriages and was offended by a book that showed that?

    Whether anti-gay rights folks like it or not, gays are part of our society, of our public and they have the right to see themselves reflected in the library collection as much as any other minority. Oh, and just how many picture books does this particular library have that reflect gay families? Probably not a lot, so I don't see how it's making the library unsafe.

    Although, really, with all the ideas that exist in the books in the's never been all that safe, has it??


    You need to reconsider your label. You're not a conservative, you're a fascist.

    Following the mentality displayed here, libraries of the 1950s America should have segregated any books that showed interracial interaction of any kind. Many "conservative" Americans told us how dangerous interacting with those "colored" people was to their children.

    Blake, I tolerate....and smile.

    In response to your question, I suspect it would be much more difficult for me to embrace a Pollyanna worldview than to honestly assess what I consider "offensive" behaviors. That said, the fact remains that intolerance does not equal bigotry nor does tolerance equate to acceptance.