Virginia Library Director Resigns After Parents Called For Defunding Over ‘Pornographic’ Children’s Books

"This is not literature. This is smut."
STAMFORD, CONNECTICUT - AUGUST 31: Bookshelves of library books stand reflected in the media center of the Newfield Elementary School on August 31, 2020 in Stamford, Connecticut. The school library, like many around the U.S., will be largely closed to students due to the coronavirus pandemic. Stamford Public Schools is opening the fall semester using a hybrid model, although many families have chosen the distance-learning option. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
John Moore/Getty Images

The director of a Virginia public library has resigned following demands from outraged parents that the library be defunded over “pornographic” children’s books.

Michelle Ross resigned effective immediately as director of the Samuels Library in Front Royal in northern Virginia on Thursday. The move came during an emergency meeting of the Samuels Public Library Board of Trustees, who accepted her resignation.

“The board is 100 percent behind Michelle’s decision. We understand that it’s the best thing for her — her health and well being. We wish her well,” said Board of Trustees President Melody Hotek.

The library board has appointed Eileen Grady, a 21-year veteran of the library, as interim director and hopes to have a permanent director within six months.

Earlier this summer, a grassroots coalition of concerned parents and others called Clean Up Samuels petitioned for the removal of a slew of books they found objectionable, dozens of which they say are “pornographic.”

Clean Up Samuels has also called for the library staff and board of trustees to be replaced.

On June 6, hundreds of parents and others packed into a Warren County Board of Supervisors meeting to protest the controversial children’s books. Nearly three dozen speakers called for defunding the library if 34 “pornographic” children’s books remained on the shelves. Many parents from the area’s robust Catholic community spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting.

“This is not literature. This is smut,” one Front Royal dad told the board after reading an excerpt about anal sex from a book titled “This Book Is Gay.”

A mom told the board that “sexually explicit content read during the wrong stage of development can do so much damage to a child’s psyche.”

“I don’t know if you have children, but raising a family takes a village. The library should not be the enemy of the family, but its ally,” the mom said.

Some speakers disagreed and called for continuing to fund the library with the controversial books still on the shelves.

Later in June, the Warren County Board of Supervisors responded to parents’ demands by voting to withhold 75% of the library’s budget for the upcoming fiscal year until September, when the issue will be revisited.

County board member Delores Oates said they would “continue to work in good faith on policies that protect our children from sexually explicit material and ensure parents have control over their children’s reading choices.”

“We did not cut the budget. This action allows the library time to present its proposed policies to their board for approval and provides accountability for all of us to come to a resolution,” Oates said.

The Clean Up Samuels list of objectionable books includes “It’s Perfectly Normal,” This Book Is Gay,” “This Is Why They Hate Us,” “Two Boys Kissing,” “She Gets The Girl,” “They Both Die At The End,” and “Anatomy Of A Single Girl,” among others.


The group has three demands — first, remove the “pornographic” books in the children’s section, second, cut ties with the American Library Association and change library policy to acquire only age-appropriate materials (including accountability for library personnel who violate the policy), and third, replace the current library leadership, who have “violated public trust.”

Before she resigned, Ross previously told The Daily Wire that 134 titles are under review, some of which are on the Clean Up Samuels list.

“The options for reconsideration are to retain, relocate, or remove the material in question,” Ross said in a June email.

In the meantime, the library has taken several smaller steps to address parents’ concerns. Last month, the library said it would introduce new library cards that allow parents to restrict which sections their children can access as well as a “new adult” section for readers 16 and up.

Front Royal is home to Christendom College, a tiny Catholic liberal arts school. Many graduates stay in the area and start families. The town is also the headquarters of Seton Home Study School, a Catholic-accredited homeschool distance school that enrolls thousands of homeschool students.

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The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  Virginia Library Director Resigns After Parents Called For Defunding Over ‘Pornographic’ Children’s Books