Most complaints against VPL books targeted LGBTQ content | For subscribers only

Two penguins at the Central Park Zoo raising a chick. A child raised by two mothers or two fathers. A red crayon that is actually blue. An outcast who finds his place in a society of birds and rabbits.

These stories have a lot in common.

First, they are all picture books dealing with LGBTQ issues that Victoria’s children can read at the Victoria Public Library.

Second, they have all been the subject of complaints from Victorians who objected to their presence in the library.

Forty-six complaints about library books and emails from a resident who was actively involved in organizing the complaints show a pattern of some residents objecting to LGBTQ content in library books and to rebellious or liberal messages.

Proponents of removing or relocating the books say the focus is on sexually explicit materials and community standards.

While the Victoria Public Library Advisory Board has voted against removing books from the library, similar controversies are still taking place in Victoria City Council and Victoria County Commissioners Court, where some politicians support efforts to restrict the library collection.

Meeting of the VPL Advisory Board

Library Director Dayna Williams-Capone listens to a summary of the agenda items for review during a meeting of the Victoria Public Library Advisory Committee on Wednesday in the library’s Bronte Room.

Of the 47 formal requests for library book reevaluations, 38 specifically mentioned LGBTQ content, particularly in relation to transgender youth, at least as part of the requester’s objections to the book.

For example, the complaints against “George” and “Look Past,” the two books that the Library Advisory Board voted to keep during its Wednesday meeting, were two of many complaints that explicitly targeted LGBTQ content in books.

The library committee provides 2 books, creates a new youth card with parental restrictions

George is about a fourth grade transgender girl who wants to play Charlotte in the adaptation of her school play Charlotte’s Web. It received positive reviews from critics and received multiple awards after its release in 2015. Later editions were titled “Melissa”.

His complaint reads, “I reject the indoctrination of little boys to think as girls, (and) changed how God made them.”

Look Past is a 2016 novel about a transgender boy who becomes implicated in the murder of a local pastor’s daughter.

His complaint, which aims to move it to an 18+ section of the library, reads: “I object to young people of formative years reading this (and) romanticizing transgender (and) lesbians.”

Barbara Breazeale, the Victoria resident who filed the complaint against Look Past, said her reason for the complaint was the book’s sexual content and its negative portrayal of the church, not LGBTQ issues, and that she denied any sexual content Content in the book decline library also in straight relationships.

Complaints about library books

And Tango Makes Three, a picture book by authors Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell, tells the story of two penguins who start a non-traditional family.

A page attached to their form spends a lot of time talking about LGBTQ issues.

“I think if a young person reads this, they might decide to experiment with homosexual behavior,” she wrote.

Similar rhetoric, including alleged concerns about LGBTQ content that “confuses” children, is contained in many complaints against LGBTQ-themed books.

The re-evaluation forms used for the complaints also contain a line recommending alternative books on the same subject.

When filling out, complainants often used this line to explicitly recommend Christian or conservative books, or books that don’t deal with the same subjects at all.

For example, the ABCs of LGBT complaint form suggested, “A Bible and dictionary would suffice.”

Complaints about library books

An excerpt from “Trans Teen Survival Guide” by Fox Fisher and Owl Fisher.

Another suggests replacing “Rainbow: A First Book of Pride,” a picture book about LGBTQ pride, with “All the Colors of the Rainbow,” a book about the science behind real rainbows.

Some forms also recommended books by Ellie Klipp, whose work on LGBTQ issues has received positive reviews from leaders at the American College of Pediatricians, a group considered an anti-LGBTQ hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Much of the controversy began last summer when resident Gay Patek gathered people to review books and submit requests for reappraisal after spotting two picture books in the juvenile section, according to previous Victoria Advocate reports, that tell the story of a transgender child told.

In an email apparently sent to members of this informal group on Aug. 4 after the majority of last year’s grievances had been settled, Patek wrote: “I want to clarify that this is not about the LGBTQ community, which the Advocate represents. It’s about protecting children’s innocence with age- and content-appropriate books and activities” about ongoing library materials efforts.

Complaints about library books

An excerpt from Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin.

Later in the same email, she wrote that supporters’ ongoing conversations with people should include the idea that “it’s also about transgender ideology, which is extremely damaging to our children, our families and our country.”

Patek did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Mayor Jeff Bauknight said in a statement to the Advocate that the current library issues being dealt with by the City Council are no longer about last year’s complaints but about “sexually explicit and pornographic books that are in a section of the VPL, which (can be) ) that minors access.”

During the last city council meeting on August 16, the council’s discussion of the library’s collection policy included several mentions of the LGBTQ community and a proposal to relocate “alternative lifestyles” content to a different library division.

The library’s director, Dayna Williams-Capone, said she doesn’t recommend creating a separate section for controversial content because it could create an “uneven playing field” for accessing those materials.

Complaints about library books

A page excerpt from My Two Dads, a picture book by Claudia Harrington.

Some residents also gave the Commissioner Court a list of library books, aimed primarily at young adults, that they felt were inappropriate, some of which contained LGBTQ issues.

Most of these books had no formal complaints, although they included sexually explicit passages as part of their narratives.

Courts generally use the Miller test established by the US Supreme Court to determine whether something is considered legally obscene.

To be considered obscene, something must violate all three parts of the test, meaning that even a sexually explicit book need not have literary merit to be legally obscene.

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