Library Pressured To Remove Book About Gay Teens From Shelves

Do you know what is terrible for teenagers to read about? Homosexuality. They might get ideas! It’s a good thing Glenn Beck’s group, The 9.12 Project, (as in, after 9/11) is on the case. The 9.12 Project has pressured a New Jersey public library into considering removing all copies of Revolutionary Voices: A Multicultural Queer Youth Anthology, a young adult book about gay and lesbian teens, from the shelves. According to the School Library Journal, The 9.12 Project contacted library director, Gail Sweet, about the book and this April she asked the Burlington County Library System to approve the removal of Revolutionary Voices. The library commissioners approved the book’s removal, even though it was not formally challenged. (Revolutionary Voices had also been removed from New Jersey’s Rancocas Valley High School at the behest of The 9.12 Project in May.)

According to emails obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union of NJ through the Freedom of Information Act, Sweet wrote in an email to her staffers, “How can we grab the books so they never, ever get back into circulation (sic) … Copies need to totally disappear (as in not a good idea to send copies to the book sale).” When a librarian asked Sweet over email why these books needed to be removed, especially considering the book had not been formally challenged, her response was “child pornography.”

The School Library Journal, a book reviewer for children’s and young adult’s books, disagrees. In 2001, it said that Revolutionary Voices was one of the best books for high school students. The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) also praised the book for being inclusive of gay teens from all races, religions, and genders.

It’s a sad day in the musty stacks when a librarian gets cowed into calling a well-regarded book about teenagers and sexuality “child porn.” But it’s even sadder that this incident has a whiff of homophobia to it. I know Judy Blume’s books are formally challenged all over the country, but are the good people at the Burlington County Library System hastily yanking Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret off the shelves, too?

[School Library Journal]
[Talking Points Memo]
[School Library Journal]