Throughout the month of June, visitors to the children’s section at the Portsmouth Public Library’s main branch are being greeted by a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Pride display. The display includes several books about sexual intercourse, gender theory, and LGBT issues. Some of the books are recommended for children as young as two years old.
When asked about the display, the library’s director of the children’s section, Lisa Lavender, declined to provide substantive comment on the matter. She did, however, note that this display was a project of the library’s staff and that the library board was not involved in the approval of the display.
One of the books, titled The Every Body Book: The LGBTQ+ Inclusive Guide for Kids about Sex, Gender, Bodies, and Families, includes a discussion of sexual intercourse (heterosexual and homosexual sex), masturbation, sexuality, gender pronouns, and contraception. The back cover of the book states that it is appropriate for ages 8-12 years old.
The book states that “people of any gender with any genitals can have sex together,” and that “masturbation, or touching your own genitals for pleasure, is a totally normal thing for people to do privately.” The Every Body Book also includes illustrations of genitalia, a boy lying in bed with another boy, a girl kissing another girl, and a pregnant man.
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Another book, titled Being You: A First Conversation About Gender, is listed by the publisher as being appropriate for children ages 2-5 years old. The book includes a discussion of gender theory, gender pronouns, genitalia, feminism, and restroom equality.
The book states that “some people are girls. Some people are boys. Some people are neither. Some people are both.” It also states that “it’s okay to wonder: Am I a girl? Am I a boy? Am I both? Am I neither?”
Other books promoted in the section deal less directly with gender theory and sex, but include discussion of same-sex relationships.
Prince and Knight, a book noted on the dust cover as being appropriate for children ages 4-8 years old, tells the story of a male prince and a male knight who fall in love with one another. It includes illustrations of romance between the two male characters.
Mama and Mommy and Me in the Middle, is a book noted by the publisher as being appropriate for children ages 3-7 years old. It tells the story of a young girl who has two mothers named Mama and Mommy. It includes illustrations of romance between the two mothers.
The LGBT Pride display in the children’s section of the library has been criticized by some in the community. One community member and longtime library patron, who requested to remain anonymous, stated that “the marketing of these books to young children amounts to nothing more than grooming behavior. It is inappropriate, and it is evidently being promoted by radicals within the library system.”
The Portsmouth Public Library Board meets this Tuesday, June 21st at noon in the basement meeting room at the library’s main branch on Gallia Street in Portsmouth. The library system made headlines in 2019 after passing a significant levy, which funds its continued operation.
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