| Oklahoma House Votes 60-33 to Segregate Books | Oklahoma House Votes 60-33 to Segregate Books

In a disturbing story from LIS News, the Oklahoma House has passed a bill that will require Oklahoma libraries to segregate books with “homosexual” and “sexually explicit” content from the children’s and young adult collections. A PDF version of the bill is available from Tulsa Library. It’s rather simplistic, and does not leave room for things like, say, redeeming social value. It is almost a cliche at this point to note that a bill such as this could mean that the Bible should be segregated to an adult’s only section. (Song of Solomon, anyone?)
It is completely ironic that one of the biggest proponents is stating that “libraries and librarians should not be usurping the role of parents,” because that’s the very reason that librarians do not tell children what they can and cannot read. Apparently this legislator believes that the government should be the ones to usurp the role of parents.

Legislator Sally Kern gets my vote for should-really-know-better because of her remarkably uninformed statement, “The American Library Association is out to sexualize our children.” I have a feeling I know what group she’s been listening to.

ALA isn’t out to sexualize anyone. The conflict lies in a number of places, including how the argument is defined. There are certainly materials which are illegal (obscenity, child pornography, and so on) and should not be available at a public library. Materials also exist which may be controversial or may be inappropriate for children (such as pornography), but it’s up to the parents of those children to determine what is or is not appropriate for their children, and not others’ children. One person’s pornography is another person’s art. Neither the library nor the state should be the ones to make that determination, in my opinion. The library is there to provide information, not restrict ideas. This is an important concept that should not be so easily dismissed.

It’s easy to fall into “freedom of speech” and “won’t someone think of the children” pleas, but we need to look deeper than that. This is an excellent article about inappropriate books and censorship when dealing with children.

A librarian must have neutrality when selecting and providing access to materials. Part of that neutrality means that they must offer materials even if they might personally object to or disagree with the content. Does this mean that they cannot take part in arguing for or against various issues? The neutrality of the librarian is something I’ve been thinking about quite a bit recently. I’ll write more about this when I have it better articulated.


  1. Joy’s Blog for Cyber* and Society - Is the Government Trying to Regulate our Reading? said,

    April 18, 2006 @ 3:15 pm

    […] Why should our government be allowed to control what we read in the library? I found a controversial blog that discusses a bill that the state government of Oklahoma passed in March. The wonderful government of Oklahoma decided to pass a bill; wherein the librarians are required to separate books from the children’s and teens section that have any “homosexual” and “sexually explicit” content. The writer of the particular blog asks if this is a violation of free speech. Also, the writer is concerned with the “neutrality” of the librarians. Ultimately, if teens and children want to get their hands on material that has to with sex or homosexuality, then they can easily access the internet. In my opinion, this bill is a joke and a waste of tax payers’ dollars because there are so many other ways kids can get their hands on sexually explicit, obscene or homosexual material. Furthermore, I find it quite disturbing that the lawmakers were so concerned over homosexual material in books. It appears that even a book that makes a reference to anything homosexual, will no longer exist in the children’s sections in Oklahoma libraries. This is not only ignorant but disturbing: are we going to raise another generation that is ignorant and prejudice against homosexuals? I don’t understand why a book about a heterosexual relationship is allowed in the children’s section, but a book on homosexuality is not. Also, if a horny teenage boy is looking for something sexual, he can easily go on the internet, than go to the library. If Oklahoma is so concerned with their children being corrupted, then why not try to take down the obvious source instead. Yes people, this is the twenty-first century. The obvious source is… media! One aspect of this blog that I disagree with is parent’s responsibility. This writer states that it is the parent’s responsibility to censor their children’s exposure to obscenity. Like I have said in my pervious blogs, parents cannot be there one-hundred percent of the time to censor their kids choices. For example, a couple of kids could go over to their friend’s house, were there is no supervisions and watch porn on the internet to their heart’s content. It is clear that the lawmakers in Oklahoma should be more concerned with the internet than the library. […]

  2. copy this blog » Cyberporn and Society said,

    April 19, 2006 @ 7:59 pm

    […] My post was about Oklahoma’s bill to remove homosexual and sexually explicit materials from children and youth collections. I’m glad to report that the bill is no longer active. […]

  3. Daniel Foster said,

    June 14, 2007 @ 11:21 am

    I study the Bible using Logos Bible Software ( and I have a hard time believing that the Song of Solomon could be considered explicit. It’s rather figurative than otherwise.

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