Hundreds of Catholic parents and others packed into a Warren County, Virginia, Board of Supervisors meeting last week to protest dozens of children’s books in the Front Royal public library they say contain inappropriate sexual content.
Nearly three dozen speakers called for defunding the Samuels Public Library in Front Royal if a list of 34 “pornographic” children’s books remain on the shelves.
Many parents from the area’s robust Catholic community spoke during the public comment portion of the June 6 board 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 who just had her first baby says she will be going to libraries soon with her child.
She calls for removing the sexually explicit children's books from the Front Royal library. pic.twitter.com/JCQ9rvWEND
— Mairead Elordi (@JohnsonHildy) June 13, 2023
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.
An older man who spoke at the meeting called the content of the controversial books “disgusting.”
“It’s not just about what we allow our own children to see and read and experience,” the man said. “The stuff that goes into the culture is an effluent that affects everybody. You wouldn’t let people put the poison in the river or into our air.”
One local Catholic father sarcastically asked the board to increase the library’s funding with “the goal of finding more artistic depictions of human sexuality.”
“I’m sure we can find pop-up books that we can put in the younger sections to get them started earlier,” the father said.
Some speakers disagreed and called for continuing to fund the library with the controversial books still on the shelves.
The board is expected to vote Tuesday evening on the new county budget for fiscal year 2023, which includes library funding.
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.
One local Catholic mother, a Christendom graduate who is expecting her first child and attended the board meeting, told The Daily Wire that “the first priority is to get rid of the graphic ‘sex-ed’ books.”
“A lot of people argue that parents should be watching their kids every moment, but kids are curious and can pick up a book quickly and see things they are too young to see,” the mom said.
The mother cited author Robie H. Harris, whose book, “It’s Perfectly Normal,” aimed at pre-teens, includes cartoon pictures of couples — including same-sex couples — naked in different sex positions. The book also discusses masturbation and abortion.
“Ideally, funding the library is important, but a sense of decency is owed the community before funding is owed to the library,” the mom said.
Colleen DeLaFleur, a mom who spoke at the meeting, told The Daily Wire that it is “appropriate” for public institutions to place age restrictions on developmentally inappropriate things, as they do for alcohol, cigarettes, and R-rated movies.
“Suddenly, however, I’m being called a Nazi for not wanting pornographic content for my child to stumble across in our taxpayer funded library. How did we get here?” she said.
“I think this is a moment in history where we need to wake up, stand up, and protect our children who deserve to have at least a few years of innocence before attempting to navigate our increasingly confusing culture,” DeLaFleur said.
A group called Clean Up Samuels, a grassroots coalition of concerned parents and residents, first brought attention to the 34 children’s books the group says are sexually inappropriate.
Their 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.”
“It is vital that we do not allow our children to be indoctrinated through publicly funded pornography under the guise of education,” Thomas Hinnant, a representative for Clean Up Samuels, told The Daily Wire.
“No adult who threatens the innocence of children should be allowed to work around children or in our library ever again,” Clean Up Samuels says on its website. “We stress that this is not about banning books, but rather an assertion of our rights as taxpayers. Anyone interested in these books can purchase them with their personal funds.”
The group said it is “deeply heartened” by how the board meeting went.
The director of Samuels Public Library, Michelle Ross, said some of the books on the Clean Up Samuels list are currently under review.
“There are 134 titles under review, some are on the list and some are not,” Ross told The Daily Wire in an email.
“The options for Reconsideration are to retain, relocate, or remove the material in question,” Ross said.
Members of the Board of Supervisors did not respond to a request for comment.