We would like LGBTQ books moved to a location within the library that affords parents full discretionary authority because we believe they present three potential areas of concern: 1) their influence on childhood development, 2) their potential for creating premature sexual openness in minors, and 3) their failure to include potential health risks and concerns.
We feel that childhood innocence is an attribute to be protected, preserved, and cherished. Childhood is a time of developing robust non-sexual relationships with family and friends, exploring nature, and nurturing wonder, creativity, and curiosity unhindered by the complexities of the adult world which many of these books represent in both their illustrations and writing. Books like “Jerome by Heart” introduce sexual categories into friendship at a time when young children should be developing bonds uncomplicated by sexual desire and attraction. This is a time in which children develop a sense of self and personal-worth which transcends sexual behavior, preference, fetish, performance, or societal beauty standards. Illustrations which display sexual elements like drag queens, leather bondage gear, and underwear-clad parade-goers (“This day In June”) intrude upon the platonic innocence of childhood and the rich time of cognitive and emotional development that it affords.
Parents possess the sacred responsibility to protect their children from sexual abuse. Picture books which contain sexual images, language, and concepts normalize sexual dress and behavior to minors and could cause them to be more susceptible to sexual grooming and abuse. According to “Stages of Grooming: Recognizing Potentially Predatory Behavior of Child Molesters” by Georgia M. Winters and Elizabeth L. Jeglic, 27% of child molesters choose their victims based on how the child is dressed. Illustrations like those mentioned above glorify and celebrate kinky attire at a time when children should be dressed in a way that suggests innocence, free of any sexual undertones. According to the fifth stage described by the study, child molesters seek to erode the victim’s sensitivity to touch and exploit their natural childish curiosity. Picture books normalizing sexual behavior and activity (ex: “The Hips on the Drag Queen go Swish, Swish, Swish”) dull children’s natural instinct to detect inappropriate attention and interactions and activate sexual curiosity before the child possesses the emotional, cognitive, and physical maturity to make safe decisions about their sexual activity.
Finally, at a time when children are developing their relationship with reality and sense of self and personal worth as they imagine, pretend, and mimic, LGBTQ picture books introduce sexual concepts into this process of experimentation and play— concepts which can have long lasting or permanent effects. By normalizing drag, cross-dressing, and gender fluidity, books like “Julian is a Mermaid” and “Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress” contribute to the social contagion of gender dysphoria while neglecting to show the health risks and concerns related to this transition process.
The drastic effects of this social contagion are demonstrated by data from the United Kingdom National Health Service documenting, over the course of 10 years, a 4,000% increase in young people in the UK seeking “gender treatment.” Picture books with glowing illustrations of little boys happily transforming into mermaids and princesses neglect to show the realities of the gender treatment process which includes the administration of cross-sex hormones and puberty blockers, both shown to cause stunted growth, loss of bone density, mood swings, infertility, sexual dysfunction, and more; they neglect to depict the numerous surgeries required to add and remove body parts, the skin grafts, the permanent side effects. In the name of acceptance would we include picture books glamorizing girls dissatisfied with the size and shape of their bodies (i.e. anorexia) into the children’s section? Of course not. We sympathize with those within the transgender community. Yet, in the name of compassion and inclusion, we cannot introduce children to a glamorized view of gender dysphoric characters and encourage children towards a path of experimental drugs and permanent surgeries, the realities of which they cannot begin to comprehend.
Madeline Veldstra is a Homer parent and the leader of a petition to move LGBTQ+ books from the children’s sections of the Homer Public Library.