(Daily Caller News Foundation) – A Virginia town board voted to freeze some funding to a public library while parents protest the presence of sexually explicit content in the kid’s section.
The Warren County Board of Supervisors approved a $1 million budget for the Samuels Public Library on Tuesday, though 75% of the funds will be restricted until September while the board members negotiate with the library on how to address the sexually explicit content available to children. The effort to remove the content was spearheaded by “Clean Up Samuels,” a grassroots coalition of about 250 parents and community members who identified 34 “pornographic” children’s books available in the library, Thomas Hinnant, the group’s spokesperson, told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
“What started this whole thing off is an elderly woman, a grandmother had a couple of her grandchildren with her in ‘Samuels so-called Public Library’ and her grandson, four years old, walked into the aisle next to her and pulled out one of these sick books,” Hinnant told the DCNF. “It’s indescribable what he pulled out, actually. That’s what brought this to folks’ attention. A bunch of us went into the library and discovered there were lots of, I don’t even want to call them books, but propaganda pieces with this pornography.”
The books available to kids in Samuels Public Library, according to Clean Up Samuels, include “This Book Is Gay,” a book that has been described as a “how to” guide for the LGBTQ community that gives tips on anal sex and hand jobs, and “Tricks,” a story about five teenagers who gets involved in prostitution. Other books include “Two Boys Kissing,” a story about two boys breaking the world record for kissing, and “Felix Ever After,” a story about a transgender teen falling in love which contains sexually explicit scenes, with one mentioning a “hard-on.”
“This is not literature, this is smut,” a Warren County parent said at a board of supervisors meeting on June 6 about “This Book Is Gay.” “This is graffiti you would find scrawled in Pompeii, which I visited.”
The library can keep possession of the books, but they cannot be available to children, Board Supervisor Jay Butler told WUSA 9 News after the vote. The library board will vote on where the books will go and whether the public library will introduce new cards that give minors access to adult content if they have parental approval, the outlet reported.
Those opposed to removing the content from the children’s section argue that Clean Up Samuels is pushing censorship and “un-American” values, according to the Daily News-Record.
“Samuels is currently under attack by those who seek to control the ideas and information that are freely available to the public,” Jay North, a Warren County resident, told the outlet. “They wish to have books removed that conflict with their personal beliefs. Rather than exercise their rights and freedoms to choose what to believe, how to live and what to read, these folks seek to deny those rights to others.”
While Clean Up Samuels has been pushing for the books to be removed entirely, the group is willing to compromise and have the books moved to the adult section, Hinnant told the DCNF. The coalition would also like the public library’s staff and executive director to be replaced.
“We reject any notion that these folks have credibility in this community, they’ve totally violated the public trust,” Hinnant told the DCNF. “That is a serious problem and therefore we do not believe that they can stay in those positions of power. The library will not be trusted if they stay in these positions of power.”
Across the country, parents are protesting sexually explicit content made available to children whether it be in public libraries or in classrooms; in November, members of the Muslim community in Michigan revolted against pornographic books placed within a local school district, holding signs that read “Keep Your Dirty Books In The Closet.” A Catholic organization launched a June campaign that encourages parents to push back against sexually explicit content put in the children’s section of public libraries as a part of Pride Month.
“I was trying to rally the troops and get a lot of younger people and people that are conservative Christians and Catholics who have families, who have moved to the area to try to join the [Republican Party]. It’s been very, very difficult to do. People are busy people and have other things in their mind,” Thomas McFadden, a Warren County resident, told the DCNF. “It’s interesting that this of all the topics, of all the problems, of all the situations, this has caused people to get off their couch and do something about it.
“All of a sudden, it’s the children’s books in libraries, at least for the conservative young people with families that normally just sort of let the things pass by and say, ‘oh, a bunch of crazy that they’re doing.’ They actually have come to the forefront and they’re the ones pushing for it [to be removed],” McFadden told the DCNF.
Samuels Public Library did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.