Concerned citizens in Old Lyme, CT, reached out to their local library, the Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library, to express concern over the sexually-explicit items that are now featured in the Teens & Tweens section of the library.
Indeed, this section, which is meant for children aged 11 - 19, contains a very long list of the most frequently challenged books that you hear about these days, including: Gender Queer; Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic; Jack of Hearts (and other parts); This Book Is Gay; Let's Talk About It: The Teen's Guide To Sex, Relationships, And Being A Human; Flamer; All Boys Aren't Blue, and the list goes on.
One of the books that caused parents to be concerned, You Know, Sex, features colorful images of children exploring their bodies, such as a girl putting a mirror between her legs to get a closer look and a page featuring the various shapes and sizes of penises. Frequent references are made to porn, watching porn to learn about sex, and how "real life" sex organs are "more diverse" than what you see in porn. Not exactly the message that most parents want to deliver to 11-year-old children, but this is far from the only book in the library that teaches children to learn from porn.
No wonder concerned members of the community reached out to the library to express their concern over the appropriateness of content like this, especially for the Teens & Tweens section.
In response, the library acknowledged that it purposely created a dedicated space for Teens & Tweens as part of its 2019 Renewal Project. Furthermore, the library admitted that it had "indeed purchased more material focused on sex education (among other topics) than in previous years." The library did not, however, indicate whether the increase in sexually-explicit books was driven by library patrons (such as children aged 11 and up), by the library itself through staff recommendations or the library's collection development policy, or by the publishing companies which seem to all share a similar focus on sexually-explicit content for adolescents these days.
Whether the library's leadership actually looked inside the cover at the images that caused concern is unclear, but the senior leadership of the library, including the President, did seek some cover by deferring to the "professional publications" that considered the book to be relevant to children in grades 5 to 9 (that means ages 10 and up).
The bottom line is that the library sees no need to change or limit access to these books, and instead puts the onus on parents, suggesting instead that parents could pre-read materials or pre-select books for their children, or even use the presence of sexually-explicit books as a teachable moment. Like teaching children that their local public library is a hotbed of pornography, for instance.
Of course, the library has no intention of acting "in loco parentis" or taking any responsibility if children are exposed to pornographic content inside the library. And children from middle school age and up can peruse the library on their own, without a parent or guardian present.
At least now you know the library has been intentionally growing its collection of sexually-explicit content for children, and it isn't concerned about exposing them to pornography, either.
Parents take caution!