To the Editor and the Voters of Reading,
Something as seemingly mundane as a race for the Board of Library Trustees has become a political bloodsport. Vanessa Alvarado’s disingenuous letter to the editor regarding the controversy over “Gender Queer” and other books in the Teen Room of the library was filled with falsehoods and unfair and untrue assumptions.
Book Banning: I could not have been more clear or emphatic in my comments on Friday night on the RCTV Candidates’ Forum. “Am I calling for banning of books? No, I am not.” (at 20:11 on the RCTV video) I went on to say that books with graphic sexual content should not be in the Teen Room (and prominently displayed there), available to children as young as thirteen or fourteen. These books could more appropriately be in the adult section of the library, or perhaps in an area where parental guidance is more likely or required. If any of the books are found to violate state or federal standards regarding obscenity or child pornography, they should not be in our library.
Yes, I know that children have access to all kinds of sexual content via the internet and sharing via smartphones, etc. That does not mean that our tax dollars should be adding to the deluge through the Teen Room of the library.
National Hostility on LGBTQ+ Rights: Ms. Alvarado is correct in that Brian and I focused on a book pertaining to a young person’s coming out as LGBTQi+. Our objection was not that the book is about coming out, but that it contains graphic renderings of explicit sex acts – between people who might or might not be minors. I do not have familiarity with every book in the Teen Room; I can say that any book containing explicit sexual imagery – straight or LGBTQi+ – has no place in the Teen Room and should be kept in an adult or parental guidance section.
The days of leveling labels such as racist or homophobe to wound – or silence – political opponents are over. Ms. Alvarado does not know me, my family, my background, my story, nor does she know those of Brian Curry, yet she blithely states that Brian and I “pose an immediate threat to the LGBTQi+ community” should we win seats on the Board of Library Trustees. Before these scurrilous charges were leveled, I was on record as saying “Every person in town has value. There is no way that we can get around that, and there is no one who should deny that.” (21:10 on the RCTV video) There is nothing in my history suggesting animosity toward LGBTQi+ people. My parents taught me to treat everyone with respect, and I try everyday to live up to that wise lesson.
If you want books with sexually explicit print material prominently displayed in the Teen Room where children as young as thirteen or fourteen can easily and without supervision access graphic renderings of explicit straight or LGBTQi+ sex acts, then vote for Monette Verrier and Cappy Popp. That is the status quo at our library, and they both endorse it.
If you believe that such materials should not be readily available to our children, then vote for Brian Curry and me.
And above all, let’s please end the personal attacks, Ms. Alvarado.
Michael T. Terry