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Copyright (c) 2009 Ginny Maziarka. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

West Bend Library Board Meeting will be moved...


What was anticipated to be a lengthy Library board meeting Tuesday night turned out to be a very short evening for everyone involved.

That’s because an overflow crowd forced the postponement of a meeting that was scheduled to discuss a recent complaint filed by West Bend residents Ginny and Jim Maziarka about questionable materials available within the West Bend Community Memorial Library.

The large crowd of people that included students and adults of all ages had hoped to offer their opinions on this subject, but the numbers exceeded the 265-capacity limit of the council chambers at City Hall. The room also included all four Milwaukee television stations.

“We have exceeded room capacity, and the meeting will have to be postponed to a later date to accommodate the (large) crowd,” Library Board President Kathryn Engelbrecht told the audience. “We apologize for the inconvenience, but it’s for the safety of everyone.”

Members of the West Bend Police Department became concerned about the steady flow of people entering the chambers minutes before and shortly after the scheduled 7 p.m. start. After consulting with the Library Board, Library Director Michael Tyree and West Bend Assistant City Attorney Cheryl Wentland, Engelbrecht announced that due to a fire code issue, the meeting could not start until a representative of the West Bend Fire Department arrived to take a people count.

A subsequent count by Fire Department Shift Lieutenant Chuck Briske and the Police Department determined that the room was over capacity and the meeting would have to be postponed. Engelbrecht announced the decision to a crowd, which filed out of the Chambers disappointed but in an orderly fashion.

“It’s disappointing that the meeting didn’t take place, but we agree with the Fire D e p a r t m e n t , ” Ginny Maziarka said. “It is there right to call the meeting off because of the large crowd.”
The board meeting was originally scheduled to take place at the Library, where it is normally held on a monthly basis, but the combination of limited space and the anticipated large crowd forced it be shifted to a larger venue.

“I know there’s a lot of disappointed people,” Tyree said. “I thought with a large place that we could have had the meeting tonight.”

The Library Board was scheduled to hear opinions regarding the Library offering pro-homosexual content through books in the YA (Young Adult) Zone and via a link on their Web site.

The Maziarkas had requested the Library to provide an equal balance of faith-based and ex-“gay” books that oppose a prohomosexual ideology, a change in a book recommendation list which is currently titled, “Out of the Closet,” the removal of two books for their explicit graphic sexual nature and the removal or password protection of a Web page that lists book titles about gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender topics.

“ We’re disappointed by what happened, but this will give the community a chance to do more research (on this issue),” Ginny Maziarka said. “All we want to see is more balance in our library.”

Despite the meeting’s postponement, Jim Maziarka was impressed by the turnout. “This speaks volumes of the level of interest and the community involvement,” he said.

No timetable was made by the Library Board as to when the meeting will be rescheduled or when location will be determined.

(By the way, that Jim Maziarka guy is really cute...) :-)


58 comments:

Sinnerviewer said...

Would you be okay if there were books in the library who were anti-fundamental evangelical? The library already has a balance of books. The vast majority of the books represent hetero lifestyles. That the library has provided some books to make gay and lesbian teenagers feel like they are normal and have a place in society, too, is to their credit.

Shelly said...

One person removed prayer from the schools in America. Now we're going to censor choice in reading materials? I do believe that Hitler had a similar agenda when the books were burned. Be careful in your zeal to organize 'similar' thinking. You may not be pleased with the ultimate result. Christ was accepting of everyone. Why not read these books that you object to with an open mind to the way others view sexual orientation. It is not a choice...it is what is is...a fact of life.

Tina-cious.com said...

If I remember correctly, there was a big hooha about the Color Purple being pornographic as well.

Now it's a classic.

How about you let people decide for themselves what they want to read and stop promoting your anti-equality agenda by way of promoting censorship.

Sweet Melissa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sweet Melissa said...

I pray to God that none of your children are gay. You should be ashamed of yourself for promoting hatred.

Queers United said...

You do not speak for Wisconsin or for values. You lack values entirely, our children need fair and comprehensive access to information. Just because you don't like it doesn't mean it shouldn't be there, or should we be kicking christian books out of the library as well? There is no such thing as "ex-gay" those people are repressed, closeted, and living a double life lie. "Thou shalt not lie" get over yourself, and get productive for real family values.

a voice of reason said...

This is not a anti-gay issue. This is about what is being promoted to our children. The content of a number of the books in this section are inappropriate. There are labels on food, there are labels on movies, there are labels on everything, why not put a label on theses books at least warning the kids/parents that the books contain graphic sexual content. Is that too much to ask. This is not about censorship, but simply protecting our kids.

Sweet Melissa said...

"the removal or password protection of a Web page that lists book titles about gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender topics"

Per the above statement this is clearly an anti-gay issue. There are books in many sections of the library which could be considered sexually explicit but you are focusing on the GBLT section only. This is clearly bigotry at its finest. This isn't Christian behavior. I will pray for you & your family.

a voice of reason said...

There may be many books in the library with inappropriate material, but the library director does not tell 11 year old kids to go and read them. Yes, the post does deal with GBLT, because they contain them. I don't think, however it should just be books dealing with GBLT. Just because it is a book about GBLT doesn't make it bad, what needs to be dealt with is the content of the books being sexually graphic and vulgar. You have a choice to read and live how you want, but please allow those with differing views the same courtesy. You would be appalled if someone taught your children that the GBLT lifestyle was wicked and evil and turned them against you without your knowledge. I am not here to say anything about your lifestyle one way or another, but please allow me the opportunity to protect my children from things I believe are inappropriate. That is all I am trying to do. And by the way, I am not the author of the post.

spoonymog said...

By your actions you lead by example, is it okay for children to not know about this part of human culture? Be that you figure homosexuality is right or wrong... censorship hurts all.

Just like censorship of sex education in health classes leads to higher rates of teenage pregnancy and STD's, censorship about homosexuality leads to confusion, diminished mental state, and depression in teenagers who identify as GLBT, and fosters bigotry and homo-phobia in those that don't.

Be a part of a solution, not a bigger part of the problem. Teach your children at home about the WRONGS *rollseyes* of homosexuals as you see it, but leave others to learn by their own devices, including the internet and PUBLIC library.

Ellis said...

Since all the good argument are gone I'd be more than happy to say that you, my dear, are being a perfect closed-minded bigot.

I honestly pity you. There are people out there who kill themselves because of torment concerning their sexuality, who've been brainwashed into thinking its wrong. Putting some books in the library to help them is a good. thing. It doesn't need to "balanced" by ex-gay books, written by people who found it impossible to accept who they are.

I'm glad that my society is more accepting and open and has some genuine Christians in it.

ekwilliams said...

I don't think there's anything I can say that the educated people that commented havent already said. You certainly don't speak for Wisconsin. I grew up there and while I'm not gay I do support every ones right to love who they want to. Teens don't need people to tell them what they can and can't read. They need to be educated so they can grow up and be something better then you.

a voice of reason said...

Let me understand, you are all for censorship when it comes to presenting the other side of the issue because you don't agree with it, but when it comes to exposing children to porn, explicit sexual content, and vulgarity you are against it. Who is the bigot?

Sinnerviewer said...

A voice of reason? Where did you get that? We love our children as much as you love yours. I've got 2that I have homeschooled their entire lives. I know what they are reading, watching and listening to and it is NOT YOUR JOB to tell me what that should be. It's MY job and I gladly accept that responsibility. Who is anyone to deem the appropriateness of any book but a parent? You all have a lot of nerve to try and decide what is and is not pornographic or appropriate for anyone else's kids.

Sinnerviewer said...

How irritating for you people to think you know better what people's kids should or shouldn't read!! It truly galls me...

a voice of reason said...

I am not trying to tell you what is an is not appropriate for your children to read. I just want books that contain vulgarity and explicit material labeled that way. I never in any way said you didn't love your children or didn't want to protect them. I know what is best for my children and having them exposed to books that tell them to beat their girlfriend so she will love you is not best for them. Books that talk favorably of rapping young girls or molesting 7 year olds is not best for them. Books that use raciest language is not the best for them.

a voice of reason said...

And by the way, the library every day determines the appropriateness of books by what it includes and doesn't.

Sinnerviewer said...

Is it your job to decide what is vulgar and explicit?

nina said...

Dr. Lea Masiello

April 11, 2001



Gay Teen Suicide: On the Rise

Dedicated to Sean Taffe, a very open and sharing person who will be missed greatly. Sean passed away May 2, 2001 as a result of a tragic swimming accident.

The teen years can often times be very difficult in general, but for homosexual teens their problems can turn out to be more than they can deal with. Being gay for many teens is something that they can not live with because society, most of the time, says that homosexuality is wrong. These teens usually have no one to go to with his or her problems for fear of being taunted or harassed. Also, schools rarely have groups for gay students to go to for help and parents are often unaware of what their children are going through. With no place to go and no one to help them, homosexual teens can feel alienated which may force them think of more harmful ways of dealing with their problems, so at times gay teens may turn to suicide rather than having to deal with their problems.

In general teens have a hard time dealing with the changes that happen in their lives in school and with their own personal problems, so some teens become depressed and think suicide might be their only way to get away from these problems. The suicide rates among both homosexual and heterosexual teens have been on the rise. In a study reported on the internet site "Healthy Place" the statistics show that "adolescent suicide has increased threefold in the last 10 years, making it the second most frequent cause of death among youth aged 15-24"(Lindop 2001). In a study done on the population in Massachusetts in 1998 there were 503 suicides and 123 homicides (Healy 2001). Nationwide in 1998, there were 30,000 suicides and 18,000 homicides. In a study done in 1997 on 4,000 high school students, the statistics show that about 10 percent attempted suicide. Most common ways teens attempt suicide is either by ingesting prescription or nonprescription drugs or by self-laceration (Lindop 2001). I think one reason for this occurrence is because of the fact that, now more so than in the past, children have to learn to grow up a lot faster. There are many more responsibilities that teens have to deal with like fact that in most families both parents work and the older kids are left being the parent to their brothers and sisters or their parents are divorced and this causes a lot more problems in their home lives. These teens are expected to take on responsibilities that they are not ready for, and this can cause added stress and depression. When depressed, many people can not find a way to be happy. When people are unhappy with their lives and can not make themselves happy, they think of other ways to relieve their pain, and suicide, along with drug use, is becoming a more common way to end ones pain. For homosexual teens there are far more problems that they have to deal with in their every-day lives.

Gay teens have significantly higher rates of both attempts and thoughts of suicide. In his study on gay teen suicide, Patrick Healy concluded that gay teens are "five times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers"(2001). As reported in "Lesbian News", "these youth account for 35% of the American population and 15% of all suicide deaths"(Ocamb 2001). Of the 4,000 students who were surveyed in 1997, 40 percent out of the 10 percent of high school students who attempted suicide were gay. For many gay teens their everyday existence can cause severe psychological damage. When they are at school they are taunted and harassed, and at home if they are not "out" they have the constant fear of "what would my parents say if they new I was gay?" Both of these situations can cause considerable stress on a teen, especially since they have to go through the other stressful problems that all their peers go through. The school environment can be a very unsafe and scary place for an "out" gay teen. Many times they are beaten-up and called names like "fag" "queer" and "dyke". In a survey done last year by the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) on 496 gay adolescents "69 percent of gay students reported having been targets of verbal, physical or sexual harassment in school, and that 42 percent said they had been physically assaulted."(Portner 2000)

Often times there is no safe place for these kids to go. Most high schools don’t have an organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students. I think that if there were some place for these students to go there would be fewer suicides among gay teens. As for colleges there are often organizations for students to go to for support. Here at IUP there is Pride Alliance and the Safe Zone. Pride Alliance is a very good place to meet people and feel supported. I have attended many of the Pride Alliance meetings, and I would have to say that I felt very comfortable and have made many good friends. As Marcie Wood, president of Pride Alliance says, "It is like a family. We even have Thanksgiving dinner for all the kids who can’t go home for the break." Wood also says that a good place for teens to go is the Internet. She says, "The internet has made it better for many people because they don’t have to feel as isolated, and no one really has to know about them looking at gay internet sites." The Safe Zone is run by the faculty and provides a place for people to go for support. Both of these organizations, I feel, help students and provide the needed comfort and support so that they can try to deal with their feelings of being an "outsider". I feel that if high schools had these types of organizations, even if there were only a few students who participated, they could save a lot of pain and suffering for many gay teens. In one Manhattan City School, Michael Perelman started a group to help students talk about sexuality and about how to get along. "They purposely called the course a ‘gender-discussion’ group because some administrations were afraid that the district leaders would perceive the session as promoting homosexuality."(Andino 2001) I know that my high school did not have any support for the homosexual students, and I think that is very sad because I’m sure there were students that could have used someone to turn to. As I have seen with many of my homosexual friends, they needed some sort of support though high school and even now in college.

I spoke to my gay friends and asked them questions about their high school experiences and about their sexuality and how this made them feel throughout their teen years. I have also sat in on panel discussion groups which are basically a group of Pride Alliance members who go around to classes and tell their stories about coming out in their teen years. I have learned a lot about how hard and traumatizing it was for kids in high school to be gay. One panel member, Joe, said that he was constantly harassed throughout high school. He was tripped on the bus, called "fag" and "queer" and was sometimes beaten up. Joe wasn’t "out" at school, but the kids all assumed that he was gay, and they felt it was okay to beat him up because of his sexuality. Joe was okay with his sexuality. He was gay, and he didn’t care. He knew there was nothing wrong with homosexuality, and he wasn’t going to try to change just because everyone else was ignorant to the issue. Another panel member, Sean, had a different experience. Sean had feelings of homosexuality from an early age, and he didn’t feel comfortable with them. He didn’t think that anyone would accept him for who he really was. So he decided that he would "try to be straight" until his 18th birthday this went on for four years and when is 18th birthday finally came, he realized that he was not "straight" and there was no way to change that. At this point he decided that he was going to commit suicide. He held a bottle of prescription medication in his hand for a while and finally decided that it was not worth it. It took him four years to realize what he realized in one minute, that it was not his problem it was societies problem. He had to face the people he thought would reject him. Sean just recently came out to his mother, and that has helped him realize that if people really love you they will not turn their backs on you. I think for homosexual teens to overcome the barriers they need to realize that they are who they are and there is nothing wrong with that. I think this realization would make it easier for them to deal with their everyday lives. For Joe, he had no suicidal feelings because he knew that the kids at school were just ignorant, and he just dealt with the harassment. The coordinator of violence prevention and international injury, Ellen Connoton told the Boston Globe that there is no proof that homosexual students are predisposed to suicide, "They are no more mentally unstable than other students, but they are susceptible to victimization by their peers."(Healy 2001) I think that if people would just be a little more accepting of people "different" from themselves there would be less of a problem with gay teen suicide.

From my research I have found that many gay teens felt very alienated in high school and in some cases still do in college. Through my interviews and information from panel discussions, I have also realized that suicidal thoughts were very common in gay students. I learned that just being a teen was hard for them but to have to deal with harassment just because they were "different" from their peers explains why gay teen suicide is such a problem. I just hope that one day homophobia is no longer a problem and that we can all live together in peace. More high schools are starting alliances for gay students and people in general are becoming more tolerant than in the past of homosexuality. I think that the world is moving in a positive way and this should help gay teens forget about suicide.

References

Andino, A. (2001, 11 January) Gay students say schools should help fight prejudice. Florida Times-Union, p. 6.

Healy, P. (2001, February 28). Massachusetts study shows high suicide rate for gay students. The Boston Globe, p. 4.

Lindop, L. "Healthy Place-Gender community". Retrieved March 16, 2001 from the World Wide Web: http://www.healthyplace.com

Mulrine, A. (1999, December 12). Preventing teen suicide: it starts with straight talk. U.S. News and World Report, 127 (24), 64.

Portner, J. (2000, April 19). Homosexual students: a group particularly vulnerable to suicide. Education Week, p. 24.

Ocamb, K. (2001, January). Anderson, Newton-John help raise $124,000 for GLBT teen suicide hotline. Lesbian News, 26 (6), 13.

Rotello, G. (2001, January 16). Calling all parents. The Advocate, p12.

Youth risk behavior survey, Massachusetts 1999. Retrieved March 23, 2001 from the World Wide Web: http://www.virtualcity.com/youthsuicide/gbsuicide3.htm#mass99


Thought you might want to add this to your "research".

thestreetcarchronicles said...

How incredibly sad and small minded that books are now being targeted simply for their gay topics.

That's right, let's take away resources from teens who are questioning or are dealing with being gay and making them feel even more like outcasts.

I hope the library keeps all of the books as they are.

liz
The Streetcar Chronicles

appple said...

dear voice of reason,

how about monitoring your children's reading material at the library, and i'll monitor mine. we're lucky to have our first amendment rights so we can have a variety of literature to choose from. teach tolerance and help educate your children so that they can make informed, unbiased decisions. you can only protect your kids for so long before they'll find various vulgar material on their own, whether it's through the internet, friends, or at school. teach them how to deal with it so they're prepared, not repulsed or frightened.

sincerely,

appple

m.m.sugar said...

As a shrink, allow me to advise you that those who believe that gayness can be therapied away generally suffer from some form of fear.

I respectfully suggest that you discuss this in your next session.

TomInGrandRapidsMI said...

Wow look at the wacko's coming out of the woodwork, did any of you read the article cited on the site or link? or did you only read the article you are linking from? http://www.lesbiatopia.com/2009/03/balance-at-local-library.html

good luck Ginny wish I was there to help you.

Hahn at Home said...

I think that this would be lusting after a married man when talking about Jim that way - isn't that a sin too?

Hahn at Home said...

Oh, and Shelly, there is a separation of church and state indicated in the documents of our founders. You can pray - at home and outside of government operated institutions. Why isn't that good enough? Or for God's sake - pray silently.

West Bend Citizen Advocate said...

Um, Hahn.... I didn't know were playing "guess the sin" game.

Jim is my husband.

sigh

West Bend Citizen Advocate said...

Um, Hahn.... I didn't know were playing "guess the sin" game.

Jim is my husband.

sigh

West Bend Citizen Advocate said...

Tom, thanks for the support, as always!

These people are all simply following the leader. The boss tells everyone to sic' her, and they do it.

.... Stepford wives.

Hahn at Home said...

Now that is funny - finally a reaction!

Hahn at Home said...

Oh, I see now - you were that very unfortunate woman interviewed on the news.

Libby said...

Full disclosure - I am a librarian. A teen librarian, at that.

Disliking one particular book, I understand that. I even understand why people challenge a book they think is wrong for their community, and I have had to respond to such challenges in the past. However, challenging an entire GROUP of books on the basis that they contain a certain type of character does nothing but strain your own credibility as the challenger.

I know that at my library, we take challenges only as seriously as the challenger. That means a sincere questioning of the validity of a work, AFTER the challenger has read that entire work and has been provided with authoritative reviews from reputable sources to help them understand why the book was chosen, and why it is appropriate for the library to own.

Now, it seems unlikely that you have read each and every book that is being challenged. And please don't quote select passages that are completely being taken out of context. That really doesn't prove anything.

As I said, I am a teen librarian, and just like the teen librarian at West Bend, I am charged with buying books that represent an entire spectrum of teens. That means books with characters that represent all types of teens. The same website that offers a GLBTQ booklist also includes a booklist titled "Faithful Fiction," featuring books about Christian teens!

The funny thing is that Christian fiction for teens and books with GLBTQ characters have a lot in common. They often deal with teens who are keeping a secret about themselves that they fear people will ridicule or hate them for, whether it's being Christian or being gay. Those books are there to help teens realize that being themselves is okay, no matter what others may think.

If I had someone come in and say that being Christian is awful and how can I have books that "promote a Christian lifestyle" on my shelves, I would fight just as hard to keep them on the shelves as I would fight to keep GLBTQ materials on the shelves. In the same vein, I would never purchase books urging Christians to completely change who they are just to fit in to society, and that is exactly what the West Bend library is being asked to do: purchase books on the "ex-gay" movement, a movement which explicitly tells gay people that they are wrong in some way.

Well, believe it or not, gay teens often DO feel like they are wrong, so I don't feel like it is doing anyone any good to reinforce those negative thoughts. In fact it could do a lot of harm. We should be supporting kids to be who they really are, and providing a chance for them to see that they are not alone in this world.

Plus, the truth is, the "ex-gay" movement doesn't really want to be found in literature. There is a reason that type of book is not often found on library shelves, and it is because publishers of that type of book market to a very insular market and often do not send their books out for professional reviews.

The West Bend librarian has probably never seen even ONE review of an ex-gay-promoting book for teens! I know I haven't.

There is a reason these books are kept out of the mainstream: they simply wouldn't pass muster when being reviewed by any ethical professional reviewer. A book that promotes telling teens that they are wrong and they need to change their fundamental self, is in fact irresponsible for a library to have on its shelves.

I truly hope the library board understands this and does not cave in to this pressure being brought to bear. Frankly, I hope that they limit the people at the board meeting to actual patrons of the West Bend library, not an army of people with a "cause." This goes for both sides of the debate. The truth is, the more of a circus is made around the issue, the harder it gets for anyone to back down or compromise, and in that case, the only ones getting hurt are library patrons, who seemed to be getting along just fine before this.

West Bend Citizen Advocate said...

Libby,

At last a post that doesn't name call, ridicule, slander or spew hate. You made some very good points and I appreciate the time you took to lay your thoughts out respectfully.

I will respond later as I must leave for work right now, but I wanted you to know I appreciated your approach, which is worthy of a response.

Sinnerviewer said...

I am looking over these comments and I don't see any name calling. Oh wait, there's Ginny calling us "Stepford Wives".

If only I could legally marry my partner and be a "wife". But our marriage might ruin the marriages of straight people so I'm not allowed. I guess I'll go give up my bus seat and drink from the "GAY" water fountain so I don't contaminate the general population with my perverted love for my partner.

West Bend Citizen Advocate said...

Let's split hairs:

1. I am a hatred promoter.
2. I lack values entirely.
3. I am a closed-minded bigot.

Etc.

Yes, name calling is included in the hate-filled comments on this post.

Sinnerviewer said...

You are also slothful and gluttonous and you have neglected to take the plank out of your own eye before removing the speck in someone else's. Jesus taught us about the legalist pharasees and how to spot them. Thank God!

Sweet Melissa said...

Dear Tom,

I was born & raised in GR. I did read the article & watch the news story. This issue is about rights. The targeting of a select group of books in a library of thousands is extremely offensive.

My ex gf worked for the public library system in the town of Byron Center, MI. This is a town just outside of GR in a blonde haired, blue eyed community. My ex came home one night to tell me that she was instructed not to put any books or magazines on end caps with pictures with African Americans on them. If any book contained African American or gay content they were conveniently “tucked away” to ensure that they would not be checked out. Due to a low number of check outs the books would then be put back into rotation & sent to another location in the county that may be a better fit with the patrons. It wasn’t that the library workers had a problem with gays or African Americans. After all, they knew that my ex was gay & the youth librarian but they knew she was a good person & performed her job well. The issue was the patrons. Many didn’t want their children to see a book with a black person on the front. The kids might want to check out the book & the parents would have to explain why they didn’t want them reading it. I’m not sure if the parents thought the books had explicit content or if reading them may turn their children toward interracial relationships. The fact is that the whole idea is racist & hateful no matter the reason. Was it fair to the minority families in the community of Byron Center to only be exposed to white approved reading? Absolutely not. It’s the same scenario there in Milwaukee.

By the way, Lesbiatopia really appreciates your readership. We love when men go to our site.

West Bend Citizen Advocate said...

Sinner: I kind of figured that someone would eventually get around to remarking about my physical appearance. Cheap shot, but expected.

By the way, slothful? How do you know this?

Very mature of you.

Sinnerviewer said...

If the glove fits...

There is no way to make my point that the people who try to make kids feel bad that God designed them differently are the very people whose lifestyles are just as sinful without bringing up the fact that you are fat, which I can only conclude is a result of a sinful lifestyle of sloth and gluttony.

This is why the scripture warns you to take the plank out of your own eye before pointing out the speck in someone else's. How sad that you can put so much time and energy into making gay teens feel like even more of an outcast than they already do, but can't obey the scriptures that you supposedly adhere to in your personal life.

I'm sorry that you wantede your 15 minutes of fame and put yourself out there for everyone to interview. I'm sorry that your sinful lifestyle is so clear and apparent and that I had to use your obesity to illustrate my point. I'm sure if I knew you personally, I could come up with many things about your character that would net the same result.

~Carrie said...

It's the nature of the beast. Someone feels attacked, so they return fire, usually off-topic. It's so predictable how these types of "fights" usually turn to 2nd grade name calling.

Topic: moving some mature themed books over to the adults section. Correct? I for one do not need my teenage son reading books provided by some librarian that feels detailed sex acts is good reading. My children are also my responsibility to raise, not the public. I choose to teach them Biblical standards and morals. If I leave them "to learn by their own devices" as someone said, what do you think they'll migrate to? Our hearts have a natural desire for sin. So it's my job, as my childrens' parent, to guide, to teach, to raise. I'm not leaving it to a school councelor either, to teach my 5 year old son all about vaginas. He stayed home from school that day. He will learn when it's appropriate, by his parents. My teen won't go into that YA section as long as trash is in there. My 8-yo daughter gets books from the section right next to the YA section. And she has seen how "cool" it is and wandered over there. Is 8 an acceptable age to read about sexual encounters? Maybe for your kids, but not mine. So if the board votes to keep the books where they are, that's just fine. Like some of you have said, we as parents need to be more involved and aware of where they are and what they're doing.

And there ARE books about anti-fundamentalism in that library. So the author must be ok with them. I don't see any Christians in our community fighting to have those removed. I think there is some confusion as to what this fight is all about. Maybe we can enlist Tipper Gore. She would understand. She may even be available. ;)

The bigotry here is rampant. If you look up the word, it's treating someone with hate AND intolerance. So those spewing the label bigot over at opposing side, time to get a mirror. Everyone seems to have such confidence in their Bible knowledge, perhaps there should be more study done.

This was in no way meant to hurt or offend, and I usually stay away from these battles as there never is a winner. But it's a topic close to my heart where my children are concerned.

a voice of reason said...

Finally someone who is thinking. I find it interesting that the term homophobic gets tossed out so quickly because someone dares opposes their way of thinking. (by the way, why all the anger and hostility toward those who have studied the issue and have facts that would oppose your viewpoint. Is there a problem with the facts?) Read the posts and where is all the anger and hate coming from? You have a parent who is concerned, oh no not that, about what their children are being exposed to, a parent who actually wants to be a parent, and now they are a bigot. All they are asking for is to move some books out of a section that is aimed at young people. The books are still going to be there. Anyone who wants them can still get them. I have gone to church for over 30 years and never once have I heard the Pastor speak of hating anyone who is gay. They oppose the lifestyle but I have always been taught to love them. Just because I don't agree with you doesn't mean that I hate you?

... said...

"Lifestyle"? Hmmm... going to work, raising kids to be responsible loving human beings, paying the bills, putting food on the table, helping neighbors and friends, going to church, buying groceries, supporting local business, supporting our troops, growing gardens, creating art, building houses, being doctors, lawyers, laypeople, giving to those who are less fortunate, treating people with respect...

Tell me... the "lifestyle" I just described... is that one of a heterosexual couple or a non-heterosexual couple?

Melly/Melody/or Mel said...

I respect everyone's right to live the kind of life they want to live..unless it is physically harmful to others, ie., abusing children, spouses, etc. Like that.

I am overweight, but I am not slothful or gluttonous. That was a low blow sinnerviewer.

I wish people would just learn to walk a mile in someone else's shoes before they start wanting to ban or remove books. Freedom of speech is so important to human rights..and a freedom many other countries don't have.

Leave the books alone. Leave each other alone. Nobody is going to harm your children by allowing them to think for themselves.

m.m.sugar said...

If your child devulged their homosexuality,I would sincerely like to know:

A-how you would feel
B-what actions you would take

Thanks

West Bend Citizen Advocate said...

My answer to Libby, as promised.

You said:
Disliking one particular book, I understand that. I even understand why people challenge a book they think is wrong for their community, and I have had to respond to such challenges in the past. However, challenging an entire GROUP of books on the basis that they contain a certain type of character does nothing but strain your own credibility as the challenger.
_________________________________

Actually, I must respectfully disagree. On what grounds does it strain my credibility? That I feel my library, who PROMISES to give the broadest spectrum of all issues on every topic is being held to their own standards? I am simply holding them accountable to provide "diverse" information. That's all. Not book banning. Not book burning even!
_________________________________

I know that at my library, we take challenges only as seriously as the challenger. That means a sincere questioning of the validity of a work, AFTER the challenger has read that entire work and has been provided with authoritative reviews from reputable sources to help them understand why the book was chosen, and why it is appropriate for the library to own.

Now, it seems unlikely that you have read each and every book that is being challenged. And please don't quote select passages that are completely being taken out of context. That really doesn't prove anything.

As I said, I am a teen librarian, and just like the teen librarian at West Bend, I am charged with buying books that represent an entire spectrum of teens. That means books with characters that represent all types of teens. The same website that offers a GLBTQ booklist also includes a booklist titled "Faithful Fiction," featuring books about Christian teens!
____________________________

Yes, very nice. The same library also offers counterpoint to these books. This section only has a very small smathering of books, by the way. And it really cannot be compared to books that have sexual acts in each of them.

_____________________________


The funny thing is that Christian fiction for teens and books with GLBTQ characters have a lot in common. They often deal with teens who are keeping a secret about themselves that they fear people will ridicule or hate them for, whether it's being Christian or being gay. Those books are there to help teens realize that being themselves is okay, no matter what others may think.

_____________________________

Actually, Libby, it seems like you may not have ever read Christian fiction, or you would know that these books do not generally "teach" kids to overcome their inept faith choice. In fact, most of these books are about people whose faith have encouraged them through difficult situations, not situations that have caused them to be closet Christians.

_________________________________


If I had someone come in and say that being Christian is awful and how can I have books that "promote a Christian lifestyle" on my shelves, I would fight just as hard to keep them on the shelves as I would fight to keep GLBTQ materials on the shelves. In the same vein, I would never purchase books urging Christians to completely change who they are just to fit in to society, and that is exactly what the West Bend library is being asked to do: purchase books on the "ex-gay" movement, a movement which explicitly tells gay people that they are wrong in some way.

____________________________

Again, it is still the opposite end of the spectrum, the opposing viewpoint, that is promised by our library policy, and yours, too, if you follow the ALA policy book. You don't have to like it, but it needs to be there anyway.

______________________________


Well, believe it or not, gay teens often DO feel like they are wrong, so I don't feel like it is doing anyone any good to reinforce those negative thoughts. In fact it could do a lot of harm. We should be supporting kids to be who they really are, and providing a chance for them to see that they are not alone in this world.

_________________________________

In my opinion (yep, my OPINION everyone, so keep that in mind), these books promote behaviors and activities that heterosexual or homosexual, kids should not be reading about or doing. Negative thoughts? Read these books. You'll have them.

_______________________________


Plus, the truth is, the "ex-gay" movement doesn't really want to be found in literature. There is a reason that type of book is not often found on library shelves, and it is because publishers of that type of book market to a very insular market and often do not send their books out for professional reviews.

_______________________________

Actually, there are some very solid books written by ex-gays. Did I say there were hundreds? No, I did not. But they are out there and we want them.

_______________________________


The West Bend librarian has probably never seen even ONE review of an ex-gay-promoting book for teens! I know I haven't.
________________________________

Ya think? This one was easy. A liberal review from a liberal ALA magazine will make it difficult to find objective materials.

______________________________


There is a reason these books are kept out of the mainstream: they simply wouldn't pass muster when being reviewed by any ethical professional reviewer. A book that promotes telling teens that they are wrong and they need to change their fundamental self, is in fact irresponsible for a library to have on its shelves.

I truly hope the library board understands this and does not cave in to this pressure being brought to bear. Frankly, I hope that they limit the people at the board meeting to actual patrons of the West Bend library, not an army of people with a "cause." This goes for both sides of the debate. The truth is, the more of a circus is made around the issue, the harder it gets for anyone to back down or compromise, and in that case, the only ones getting hurt are library patrons, who seemed to be getting along just fine before this.

______________________________

Were they? How do you know this?
What *I* am advocating is the kind of behavior you just won’t accept - the hearing of, and disagreement with, and discourse about - opposing viewpoints. And the respect of an individual’s right to not be forced to accept something he/she disagrees with (e.g. homosexuality).

Either you believe in the freedom of speech (and, while we’re at it, freedom of religion) and allow people to pose viewpoints you disagree with or you oppose free speech (and free religion) for all and put no weight or importance to our Constitution. There is no middle ground here.




March 4, 2009 10:20 PM

Kathleen said...

"A liberal review from a liberal ALA magazine will make it difficult to find objective materials."

Like Libby, I'm a librarian too, and can tell you that American Libraries (yes, published by ALA, which you find liberal) is only one source used for reviews. Most librarians try to find as many reviews as possible to make an educated choice, and knowing full well that their choices may need to be justified to their superiors or the public.

I've read most of your posts, and you seem particularly annoyed about anything that says it's OK to be gay, regardless if it is sexually explicit. (And "skinny dipping" is a tame example of explicit, but I digress.) Since your bias is evident, it makes your suggestions of books to add to the collection very suspect, as does what Libby pointed out about a lack of these books in the review sources. How, then, can these books be seen as credible? The dominant culture already tells kids that they should try to be heterosexual. Does that really need to be enforced any more? Does a small section of books written for teens really overwhelm the pro-heterosexual message we all get from the time we're born?

In one or two posts, you make it quite clear that you hold homosexuals in contempt, therefore you attacked them first. To complain when they hit back is more foolish than name calling, IMO.

Libby said...

Whoa, this post got LONG….

I am very interested in seeing what reviewed books are out there that support gay teens becoming “ex-gay”. And as you have discredited any professional library review media as ‘liberal,’ I feel justified in discounting a review source that is ‘conservative’ or from an outlet that has ties to the “ex-gay” or “reparative therapy” movement. Is there any ex-gay fiction for teens out there that has met with positive reviews from an unbiased source? I am not aware of any, but I am open to finding out.

Although I do not see it posted on the website, the library probably works from an established collection development policy, which, if it is anything like ours, states that their book selectors use credible, authoritative, professional review sources when purchasing books for the collection.

Librarians do not only get reviews from “a liberal ALA magazine” but many sources like Publishers Weekly for example, that are also for bookstores – people who are trying to SELL books and make money. Yet, again, I have never seen a review of an ex-gay book for teens. The truth is, the demand is just not there – and I mean from the target market: teens who identify as LGBT or are questioning. Parents, yes, there is probably a market there, because there are many parents who cannot accept that their child could be gay. But, a library’s teen collection is there for the teens, not their parents.

Books that depict teens coming to terms with their sexuality, coming out, and dealing with the fallout from friends and family are in libraries because they get checked out – there is a demand for them from the teens that need those materials. I have had teens ask me to buy more LGBT books, make a booklist for them, etc, but I have never had one tell me that they were searching for a way out of homosexuality and wanted support for that.

Again, believe it or not, I understand that there are people who do enter into ex-gay programs with a sincere wish not to be gay, and they are not all there against their will. However, I am sure you are aware that being homosexual is not a disease, not even a psychological one, if you place any credibility in the American Psychological Association’s decision to remove homosexuality from their list of mental illnesses, and their subsequent advocating for gay self-acceptance as a way to mental health. (I know you may in fact NOT place any credibility in this, but that doesn’t change it.)

Yes, I understand some people feel the need to suppress their homosexual behavior in order to fit into an external worldview, but ACTING straight and BEING straight are NOT the same. Something that is not a disease needs no cure, nor do I personally believe libraries need to present materials that suggest there IS a cure.

But, in case you are worried, your library does in fact offer books such as these (and probably more, I didn’t go through the whole catalog):

“Homosexuality: Opposing Viewpoints” in which “Authors in this anthology debate what causes homosexuality, whether society should encourage acceptance of homosexuality, whether homosexuals can change their sexual orientation, and whether society should legally sanction gay relationships.” This book is in their young adult nonfiction section, and the series is designed to present to opposing viewpoints without sugarcoating either of those viewpoints. This is nonfiction, but I recall that you are interested more in fiction titles, so…

The library also has “Bright Purple” by Christian fiction author Melody Carlson, in which a Christian teen finds out that her best friend is gay and has to decide how to handle it, ultimately finding a way to love her friend while not agreeing with her homosexuality. This books presents an opposing viewpoint without resorting to suggesting that gay teens should suppress their true selves. Maybe I am misunderstanding what your goal is here, but why can’t books like these be enough of a middle ground?

As for the sexual content of the GLBT collection, surely you are not suggesting that sexual content is not present in young adult books depicting straight relationships?! Or suggesting that there is something inherent in gay sex that makes it more pornographic than straight sex? I really hope this is not the case.

I know from experience that parents are often shocked and appalled that ANY book in the teen collection deals with sexual content, but it’s a fact of life that teens ARE thinking, wondering, and exploring ideas about sex. They may be scared, worried, excited, or anything in between, when it comes to sex and often read books with this content so they know they aren’t alone in feeling that way. This goes for books about many subjects, not just sex, but also depression, problems with their parents, friends, school, etc.

The sexual content (gay or straight) of young adult books may in fact be too much for some teens, this is true. But kids are smarter then we give them credit for – they CAN self-regulate and stop reading a book when it gets to be too much. I’ve had teens start a book and return it saying exactly that: “This book had stuff in it I didn’t want to read about.” They can and should be able to make these choices.

The sexual content may also be too much for parents, and since they’re the parents, yes, they can ask their kid to see the books that were checked out and decide for themselves what their own kid can read. I have no problem with that. But don’t ask the librarians to act as a parent, because we aren’t there for that purpose.

Fiesty Charlie said...

Libby,

Bravo! Well said and thank you for researching the catalog to counter the argument. Nothing like a good old fashioned library search to come up with a solution.

Everyone else:

I am a retired EMT and have been on too many calls, where adults were violent with their own kids in a number of ways. From screaming bible verses, to total abandonment... to worse.

These parents, had a view of the world that was not open for discussion. "You will be straight!"

As a gay person, who knew at the age of 6 that I was different, and had never met a gay person, let me tell you... the word lonely does not cover it.

I did not know what to call it until much later, and NOPE there was no one trying to "promote it" say it was "OK to be gay!"

I was in a small town in WV, surrounded by bible fearing religious folks...

SO, why is it they did not have the most influence on me? I mean by all the arguments FOR removing the books, I should be a straight woman, married to a man, with 4 kids, attending church 3-4 times a week.

I addition, I grew up in a very racists, homophobic household, so that alone should have made me the same way right?

I mean come on, if you are going to argue that exposure to a certain way of thinking will alter the outcome of a human being? Your theory just failed miserably.

In the 1970's and 1980's there were ZERO "pro-homosexual" books for ANYONE. How is it then, that so many people turned out to be gay?

You and your husband are straight, at least I assume so, therefore you are going to have kids who are 100% straight... right?

Hmmm... I had straight parents, never exposed to any gay, lesbian content ever... and yet, here I am.

There is a hole in your theory bucket.

If you do not want your kids exposed to certain books in a public library, take away the library card, order the books you want them to read on Amazon.

Better yet, take them to any of the many, many Christian bookstores and discuss opening up a section of the store as for teens to go read, like people do at Borders or Barnes and Noble.

Do whatever you need to do, to raise your kids the way YOU want to raise them.

However, don't think yourself so big, that you can dictate to others what should or should not be on the shelf in ANY section of the library. There are many in the world, who see the value in having a broad range of topics for every age group accessible to everyone.

Don't like it, don't use the library or start your own lending library through your church.

Peace!

West Bend Citizen Advocate said...

Here are some helpful reading materials you may want to try:

• Restoring Sexual Identity by Anne Paulk (Harvest House, 2003) ISBN: 0736911790

• When Homosexuality Hits Home: What to Do When a Loved One Says They’re Gay by Joe Dallas (Harvest House, 2004) ISBN: 0736912010

• 101 Frequently Asked Questions About Homosexuality by Mike Haley (Harvest House, 2004) ISBN: 0736914706 ISBN-13: 9780736914703

• My Genes Made Me Do It: A Scientific Look at Sexual Orientation by Dr. Neil and Briar Whitehead ISBN-10:1563841657 ISBN-13:978-1563841651

• The Battle for Normality by Gerard J.M. van den Aardweg, Ph.D. ISBN-10:0898706149; ISBN-13:978-0898706147

• The Heart of Female Same-Sex Attraction by Janelle Hallman
ISBN-10:083083429X; ISBN-13:978-0830834297

• Light in the Closet: Torah, Homosexuality, and the Power to Change by Arthur Goldberg ISBN: 0-9631478-8-9

• A Parent’s Guide to Preventing Homosexuality by Joseph and Linda Nicolosi ISBN:0830823794

• Homosexual No More by William Consiglio ISBN-10: 0896939359; ISBN-13:978-0896939356

• Desires in Conflict by Joe Dallas ISBN-10: 0736912118; ISBN-13:
978-0736912112

• The Battle for Normality by Van Den Aardwig ISBN-10: 0898706149; ISBN-13:978-0898706147

• Alfie’s Home (Children’s picture book) by Richard Cohen ISBN: 0963705806

• Homosexuality: The Politics of Truth by Jeffrey Satinover ISBN-10:080105625X; ISBN-13: 978-0801056253

• Healing Homosexuality: Case Stories by Joseph Nicolosi
ISBN-10: 0876683405; ISBN-13: 978-0876683408

• The Puzzle - Exploring the Puzzle of Male Homosexuality by Louis A Berman ISBN-10: 0972301313; ISBN-13: 978-0972301312

Libby said...

Again, maybe I am misunderstanding your intent. I thought you were looking for fiction books for teens to 'balance' the books that feature being gay in a positive light. Are nonfiction books for adults and parents, like the majority of the ones mentioned, what you are actually looking to add? At least that would be slightly more palatable, although I was still unable to find any professional reviews for the handful of books on the list I looked up.

The West Bend young adult librarian will be the one who ultimately will have to abide by the board's decision (although judging by this list, the adult librarian will probably have to be involved, too). Hopefully, the board members are recieving good advice and are being reacquainted with library policy and procedure by the library director. I hope this situation is able to be resolved civilly, and in that regard, I wish everyone involved good luck.

West Bend Citizen Advocate said...

Libby,

Thanks for your time and thoughtfulness. Yes and no, in answer to your question.

Yes, we are asking for these books, such as the ones listed above, to be placed in the adult section of our library to broaden the spectrum for those who want this material. Though the gay community would resist, it is true there are those that really actually want to read these books.

We are asking for similar materials to be placed among the YA Zone books for the children to access so the books are not entirely gay-affirming. There needs to be balance as best as can be offered. Since there is not even ONE book such as what I have suggested, that leans heavily towards censorship by our library, which I truly would not like to believe they are doing.

To this point, all of the discussions between ourselves and the library have been kind, respectful and better than civil. It is the outspoken community of people who disagree with our request that have been misinformed, vile, rude and hateful.

We believe we can work with our library board in an appropriate manner, as we have been doing. Those who choose to act as extremists and blow this out of proportion only seem to want one thing.....attention.

Thanks, again, Libby.

Tasha said...

Everyday I realise how lucky I am to live in the UK, a society where this kind of behaviour would be simply laughed at. I've been reading a lot of American blogs and news sites over the last year and I honestly didn't realise how homophobic large parts of the country are.

To even bring up the issue of gay and lesbian books in a library seems to be very strange. In the UK there is a strong belief that children should be aware of the complexities of sexual orientation and this is mirrored in the way that schools now deal with the subject.

To the people who want to make an issue out of these books, please take a look at some of the ways that other countries deal with the issue of homosexuality.

Paul said...

So if there is a section on Black History in the library with many books portraying sympathy toward African Americans and how they were treated in the past. Many of these books are written by African Americans and many of the facts are derived from personal accounts of ex-slaves and people who were opressed before the civil rights movement.

But I want balance! So the library really needs to add books by ex-Nazi's, Black Haters, materials by the Aryan Brotherhood and other anti-black materials... to add balance of course.

Your requests are unbelievably hate minded. Most books that talk about gay's and gay culture that are "faith based" or by "ex-gays" are full of misguided information and hate mongering. They are books that basically say "you are bad for being gay". I hate to say it but "faith based" books are just fiction. You are trying to compare books that speak from peoples real life experience of growing up homosexual, and "balance" it with some pastor speaking about how HE thinks God and Jesus meant for us to live.

It just doesn't compare. Teens in our society today need those resources more than ever before! Open your mind and don't be so opposed to lifestyles that are different than your own. And if you really stood for the values of our Country you would realize that all forms of censorship are bad especially in our libraries!

Anonymous said...

Oh and looking at your "Recommended Reading" list from Amazon you can tell hate mongering books are high on your list for adding balance.

Silencing the Christians: How Liberals and Homosexual Activists are Outlawing Christianity (and Judaism) to Force Their Sexual Agenda on America

(Right, Christians silenced LOL!!!)

Marriage Under Fire: Why We Must Win This Battle

Summary of above book reads: Legalization of gay marriages will lead to polygamy

(LOL AGAIN!)

It's pretty obvious you are VERY anti-gay. Sorry I don't think we should base our book availability based on what YOU think.

Maybe next week you won't believe in modern physics because it's against the bible, so we will have to remove all the books written by Stephen Hawking.

Where does it end?

Tolerance said...

Ha. This is absolutely an anti-gay issue; another example of someone trying to apply their narrow-minded personal beliefs on the rest of society.

From CNN:
"She and her husband also asked the library to obtain books about homosexuality that affirmed heterosexuality, such as titles written by "ex-gays," Maziarka said.

"All the books in the young-adult zone that deal with homosexuality are gay-affirming. That's not balance," she said.

I'm sure their next request was for a bunch of books about heterosexuality that affirmed homosexuality, such as titles written by "ex-straights," right? THAT'S true balance; unlike their homophobic bigotry that has now been nationally exposed.

Signed,
32 year old married hetero father of one

Radio Nowhere said...

Since when do idiots like you "speak" for Wisconsin?

Katherine said...

Here's some common sense for you, dearest Ginny: you don't like certain young adult books? Then don't let the young adults under your guardianship read them. Leave the parenting of other children to their own parents, mmmkay?

Anonymous said...

I have an idea, let's have a Ginny burning instead! I'll bring the marshmallows!

Anonymous said...

Ginny and Jim spend an awful lot of time thinking about gays, lesbians, being gay, gay sex acts, ex-gays, gay identity, gay gay gay gay...

Kind of makes you think they might have an obsession doesn't it? Guess they're afraid these books will make them learn something about themselves that's very apparent to the rest of us.

Hey guys, drop your obsession and come out the closet already!!