Sunday, December 6, 2009

GLSEN Gets It, the ALA Doesn't; ALA Challenged to Provide Notice of Potentially Inappropriate Material in its Book Lists and Awards

GLSEN gets it, the ALA [American Library Association] doesn't.  What is it?  It is providing parents with notice of potentially inappropriate material in reading lists.  I challenge the ALA to provide such notice.

GLSEN Book List Contains Material Inappropriate for Children

According to "Breaking: Obama's 'Safe Schools Czar' Is Promoting Child Porn in the Classroom–Kevin Jennings and the GLSEN Reading List," by Jim Hoft, Gateway Pundit, 4 December 2009, GLSEN has a list of "books that GLSEN’s directors think all kids should be reading: gay kids should read them to raise their self-esteem, and straight kids should read them in order to become more aware and tolerant and stop bullying gay kids":
Book after book after book contained stories and anecdotes that weren’t merely X-rated and pornographic, but which featured explicit descriptions of sex acts between pre-schoolers; stories that seemed to promote and recommend child-adult sexual relationships; stories of public masturbation, anal sex in restrooms, affairs between students and teachers, five-year-olds playing sex games, semen flying through the air.

Providing Notice is Simple, as GLSEN Illustrates

Be that as it may, this sentence from the story is revealing: "Note: GLSEN does advise adults to 'review content for suitability.'"

Providing notice is very simple, as GLSEN illustrates in the link, a graphic from which is at right, but the ALA refuses to do this simple act.

As I have said before:
Perhaps worse, no notice whatsoever is provided as to the content containing x-rated material and otherwise being pervasively vulgar.  The problem here is the ALA, not the book or the author.  The ALA awards a pervasively vulgar book containing an x-rated section for kids twelve and up, does not provide notice as to the x-rated contents or the vulgarity, and knows its lists are used as gold standards nationwide for promoting books to children.  That is the problem.
How true.  And GLSEN shows just how simple it is to provide such notice, red emphasis in original:
All BookLink items are reviewed by GLSEN staff for quality and appropriateness of content. However, some titles for adolescent readers contain mature themes. We recommend that adults selecting books for youth review content for suitability. The editorial and customer reviews listed at often provide information on mature content.

Example of Effect of Lack of Notice

Here is an example of what happens when an ALA-awarded book containing oral sex is promoted without notice of the contents:

Don't you love the gold seal of approval from the ALA on the book?  It is for the ALA's Printz Award. It is obviously the reason the store chose that book for a prime spot—evidencing the desired effect of the award, namely, broadest possible exposure.  "Lara unbuttoned my pants and pulled my boxers down a little and pulled out my penis. .... And then she wrapped her hand around it and put it into her mouth." That got the top award in 2006 with absolutely no notice as to such content.  Then it ended up in a grocery store checkout aisle at child eye height next to Bob the Builder, as the above picture shows.  And there is a child nearby.  I personally got the author to admit he wouldn't even give his own award-winning book to his own 12 year old if he had one.

Demand for ALA to Provide Notice to Parents

It is time people demand notice from the ALA similar to the notice GLSEN provided.

I call on the ALA here and now to provide notice in its book lists and awards of potentially inappropriate material for children.  If GLSEN can do it, so can the ALA.



  1. Media Matters for America implicitly supports some of what I have said (and does not address the remainder).

    I take away from this that Media Matters For America supports providing people with adequate notice as to the contents of reading material.

    Now, besides GLSEN, Media Matters gets it, the ALA doesn't.


    SMEAR: Jennings promoted "Child Porn in the Classroom"

    REALITY: Jennings' group recommended adults review books for suitability.
    Conservative blogs and The Washington Times editorial board have claimed that Jennings is unfit as "Safe Schools Czar" because he supposedly promoted "child porn" by allowing GLSEN to recommend for students in grades 7-12 books that included sexually explicit content. The organization, however, specifically stated on its book list website that "some titles for adolescent readers contain mature themes" and recommended that "adults selecting books for youth review content for suitability"; further, schools regularly teach books that contain sexually explicit material. In a December 11 statement, Martin Garnar, chair of the American Library Association's Intellectual Freedom Committee, said: "Though Jennings' and GLSEN's critics claim to be upholding American morals and values by condemning the GLSEN book list, they are actually undermining the values of tolerance, free inquiry, and self-determination that inform and sustain our democratic way of life in the United States."


    "Unraveling the Right's False Attacks on Kevin Jennings," by M.G., Media Matters for America, 15 December 2009.

  2. I have been critical of the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) on this blog. Now I can report good news about the NCAC.

    The NCAC, like GLSEN but unlike the ALA, would provide parents with adequate notice about potentially objectionable material:

    "It would have been enough, as the school district also promises, to inform the parents about the curriculum before it takes place. That way, parents who object can choose to make their own children read alternate books, while the rest of the students remain able to take part fully in this important unit."

    To this point the ALA remains silent while continuing to deny people proper notice.


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