Back in March, a YA librarian posted on the YALSA-BK listserv looking for recommendations for books (fiction and non-fiction) with anti-homosexual themes and tales of "ex-gay" characters. The listserv blew up with a flurry of e-mails bashing the requester, jumping to conclusions about her motives and beliefs, and basically causing a virtual riot. After the furious posts died down a bit, the original poster responded to let everyone know that the reason for her request was that two patrons had recently filed a complaint against the library's collection practices and requested for the removal of several books from the library's young adult collection which she deemed "perverse and pornographic language" and the inclusion of "oppositional, i.e., ex-gay, faith-based materials" in the YA collection.
Spurred to action after finding an "Out of the Closet" booklist (which has now evidently and inexplicably been renamed "Over the Rainbow"on the library's website, patrons Ginny and Jim Maziarka made the following request (link is to the full post):
Our requests are three-fold: 1. To bring balance to the YA Zone as well as the adult section of our library by providing faith-based and ex-“gay” books that oppose a pro-homosexual ideology. 2. That the book recommendation list under the name “Out of the Closet”, which brings a pro-homosexual connotation to the list, be renamed and include an equal balance of faith-based and ex-“gay” books that oppose a pro-homosexual ideology. 3. We are asking for the removal of “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” and “The Geography Club” for their explicit pornographic sexual nature. We have additionally requested "Deal With It!" be withheld, as it appears that it is in the works for our YA Zone.
The patrons provide a fairly good (and seemingly accurate) blog account of the process that they've gone through in order to have their requested honored. It's obviously a biased account peppered with their thoughts and beliefs on the situation, but you can at least get a sense for what has been happening and their reasons for the complaint. For a less-biased account, the Daily News also has an article. But basically, after filing a formal complaint, they met first with the YA librarian, then the library (both of whom refused their requests citing the library's collection development policy and use of book reviews, etc. Unsatisfied with the outcome, they intended to take it to a library board meeting, BUT the meeting was cancelled and the complaint rejected.
Since then, the request has morphed into a slightly different one, involving shifting and labeling of materials, restriction of Internet access, but still including the request for materials offering a "balanced perspective" on homosexuality, and there's been a signature campaign and a town meeting. Most recently, Publisher's Weekly notes that four members of the library board who disagreed with the patron request were dismissed/did not have their terms renewed.
What I'd Like To See:
I totally disagree with the patron's request, but I think it would be kind of awesome (in a not really awesome way) to see them label all materials in the collection that feature "sexually explicit" material. The entire Romance section would be one big label. And might children's books like And Tango Makes Three and Heather Has Two Mommies, be determined "sexually explicit" just for featuring homosexual relationships? What about books like Mommy Laid an Egg? Who makes that decision, anyway?