Alabama libraries under scrutiny for controversial books accessible to kids

Some parents are sounding the alarm about books dealing with gender and sexual orientation that they say are easily accessible to kids.
Published: Sep. 7, 2023 at 6:14 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 7, 2023 at 8:40 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Some books in Alabama libraries are turning heads.

Gov. Kay Ivey addressed parental concerns about gender and sexual orientation books at public libraries in a letter to the Alabama Public Library Service. And Rep. Susan DuBose, R- Jefferson County, says it’s time for local libraries to listen to the community when it comes to putting books on shelves.

“As I started investigating the American Library Association, is that all of the guidance, all of the policies that our local libraries use come from this national organization,” said DuBose.

In her op-ed, Rep. Dubose wrote “The time has come for Alabama libraries to disaffiliate from the toxic American Library Association. Taxpayer-funded indoctrination of our children has no place in Alabama, and yet that is exactly what we are getting from the oldest library institution in the nation.”

The ALA is a national organization of which the Alabama Library Association is an affiliate. Both non-profits enhance learning and ensure access to information by advising librarians.

“I would love for local libraries to come up with their own legislation, and come up with some compromises that allow them to serve everyone in a community,” said DuBose.

“Our House Democratic Caucus is in favor of the ALA’s bill of rights. I mean, we’re just generally opposed to any attempts to hide the truth,” said Rep. Adline Clarke, D-Mobile, the policy chair for the House Democratic Caucus.

Another agency facing scrutiny is the Alabama Public Library Service, Alabama’s state agency that advises libraries.

Gov. Kay Ivey’s letter to the APLS, lists books of concern including “Who are You?: The Kid’s Guide to Gender Identity” which is marketed to five-to-eight-year-olds to help them understand and to celebrate gender diversity. The Governor wants APLS to come up with a way to give parents more control over what their children see in the library.

In a response letter, APLS director Nancy Pack wrote, “Many libraries already have policies in place that require parental supervision when a child checks out items.”

APLS Board Member and ALGOP chairman John Wahl proposes the agency create a list of books that may contain sexually inappropriate content for display purposes in children’s library sections.

In a statement, Wahl said, “This is not a question about banning anything. The question here is should taxpayer funds be used to purchase books with explicit sexual content and other inappropriate material that are readily accessible to our children.”

His proposal would let parents submit material they felt was unsuitable for children and share it with libraries across the state. That agency will meet next Wednesday.

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