Thursday, May 7, 2009

Wisconsin Library Challenge Heats Up

School Library Journal gives an overview of the complaint about certain young adult books in the West Bend Community Memorial Library and points out that the petition being circulated by Ginny Maziarka of West Bend Citizens for Safe Libraries asks that the library increase the number of "faith-based and/or ex-gay books affirming traditional heterosexual perspectives be added to the library."

A West Bend Library catalog search for the term "ex-gay" doesn't turn up anything. Searching "homosexuality" as a key word produces 105 results and "homosexual" produces 13 results, most of which are novels. A subject search for "gay" got 147 hits (although not all of these were about gay people, since a glitch caused numerous books by authors with "Gay" as a first or last name to appear; a word search for "gay" produced even more of these false leads).

The titles found in these searches include many of the contested books, along with several books that either paint a negative picture of homosexuality or present both pro and con arguments for civil rights for homosexuals, LGBTQ identities, or religious inclusion of homosexuals, including:

  • Goodbye, good men : how liberals brought corruption into the Catholic Church by Michael S. Rose
  • The enemy at home : the cultural left and its responsibility for 9/11 by Dinesh D'Souza
  • Written on the heart : the case for natural law by J. Budziszewski
  • Religion and sexuality by Kevin Hillstrom, editor
  • Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Controversial Issues in Physical Anthropology by Mary Courtis, editor
  • The Catholic Church: opposing viewpoints by Mary Williams, editor
  • Homosexuality : opposing viewpoints by Auriana Ojeda, editor
  • Homosexuality: Debating the Issues by Robert M. Baird and M. Katherine Baird, editors
  • Gay marriage by Kate Burns
  • Gay and lesbian families by Kate Burns
  • Keep
  • The straight-up truth about the down-low: women share their stories of betrayal, pain and survival by Joy Marie
  • AIDS (Opposing Viewpoints)by Viqi Wagner, editor
The question remains: does the library carry enough books to meet the petitions demand for books that affirm heterosexuality? Only eight books are listed under the key word search term "heterosexual," none of which are fiction. But a search under the key word "romance" found 1,735; the key word "marriage" turned up 994 (a subject search for the same word turned up 469); and a subject search for "weddings" turned up 137. A review of titles and a scanning of book excerpts and summaries leaves the impression that the vast majority of the books listed under these key words and subjects depict and affirm heterosexual relationships. Twenty books are cross-listed under "Christianity" and "Family, Marriage, Women," including selections from James Dobson, an activist against the acceptance of homosexuality as a natural expression of human sexuality.

It doesn't answer the question, but perhaps it helps.

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