Over the past month, a culture-wars kerfuffle has erupted at my small town library. It started when a local mom discovered two books by Alex Gino, “Rick” and “George,” prominently displayed in the children’s section. These books feature transgender and questioning elementary students and contain references to pornography, genitalia, and masturbation. The mom asked for the books to be removed from the children’s section to a more appropriate location. Other parents joined the fray, and the library placed several books under temporary review, including picture books about “My Two Moms.”
The incident was reported as a movement to censor children’s books with LGBTQ content. Trolls descended upon the library’s Facebook page, and the library board reported receiving hundreds of irate emails from around the country. Those who objected to LGBTQ content on display for children were described as “hateful,” “stupid and mean,” “backwards and sad,” even “inexcusable and unforgivable.” The library staff was also upset, citing ALA guidelines on censorship and complaining that they were being asked to “do the job of parents” by limiting access to certain books. At a public meeting which I attended, one young woman cited statistics for the proposition that, if the library moved the LGBTQ children’s books, “people will die!”
In the spirit of building bridges, let me give several reasons – other than hate or ignorance -- why people might object to LGBTQ books in the children’s section of the public library.
Religious conviction. As people of God’s word, Christians have a distinct view of marriage and sex. We believe God created mankind as binary, male and female. Sex is designed to bind man and woman in marriage, resulting in the fruitfulness of children and family life. The Bible forbids sex outside of marriage, including adultery and homosexuality. It is the duty of Christian parents to teach their children these foundational truths.
Commitment to science. Every child has a biological mother and father, period. And with the exception of certain rare and tragic medical conditions, every child is born male or female, down to their individual cells. Children cannot have “two mothers” – it’s an absurdity. Likewise, a boy cannot become a girl, no matter how he feels inside. Children who grow up believing these lies deserve only compassion. They also deserve the truth, not propaganda at the public library.
Commitment to children’s rights. Children have a fundamental right to be known and loved by their biological mother and father. Behind the smiling portrait of “My Two Dads” is the ghost of a mom, bereft. And the children with “two moms” ache for the knowledge of their natural father. The loss of a parent deserves sympathy and recognition, not celebration.
Commitment to children’s health. Elementary-age children (such as the hero/heroine of the Gino novels) should be encouraged to love their bodies, not reject them. Encouraging children to identify as the opposite sex can lead to harmful, permanent, and completely unnecessary medical “treatments.” These decisions are best left until adulthood.
Commitment to children’s innocence. Prior to puberty, children lack the capacity and maturity to understand adult sexual practices. Children should be able to make same-sex friends without thinking in terms of sexual attraction. This is hard to do when they are bombarded by LGBTQ messaging from an early age. We can and should teach children about the birds and the bees, using age-appropriate terms. But the LGBTQ agenda has literally nothing to do with where babies come from. Inserting LGBTQ-positive books in the children’s section, especially ones with explicit material, is one more example of the early and unnecessary sexualization of children.
Commitment to human flourishing. Sex is a powerful force. Human flourishing depends upon training our sexual urges toward their creational purpose: the natural family. When the natural family breaks down, chaos and suffering result. Parents have a duty to protect their children from inherently destructive ideas, until the children are mature enough to evaluate such material for themselves.
Local libraries should serve the local communities which comprise their tax base. This is what self-government is all about. My community includes both conservative Christians and LBGTQ advocates. Our library should have attempted a reasonable compromise, for example, placing the Gino books in an area for teenagers instead of children. Instead, the library board voted to keep the books on their original shelves.
Yet all is not lost. Through town hall meetings and letters to the editor, Christians in my small town have both spoken up for their faith and listened compassionately to the concerns of others. These conversations are worth having, and worth continuing. I hope, ultimately, the library controversy will point people to Christ: the one who saves us from all sin and gives us all new identities.
Image: Damien Benoit LeDoux