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Girl in a jacket

Alabama Library labels children’s book as ‘explicit’ because the author’s last name is ‘Gay’

Sounds like the people behind this are the kinds that still giggle when a person’s “private parts” are said.

The Huntsville-Madison County Public Library in Alabama seems to have flagged a children’s picture book as inappropriate due to the author’s last name being ‘Gay.’ The book in question? Well, “Read Me a Story, Stella,” was written by Canadian author Marie-Louise Gay and is about two siblings reading and building a doghouse together.

The book does not have “sexually explicit” content, but because of the author’s last name—‘Gay,’ it’s set to be reviewed along with 233 other books for being “potentially inappropriate” for children, as said by the HCPL Executive Director, Cindy Hewitt.

Hewitt explained that the book was only added to the list because of the keyword “gay,” and that it shouldn’t have been added to the list in the first place. “We wanted to be proactive and allow our library staff to look at our collection and make decisions about moving material to an older age group and not have someone from outside dictating that for us,” she said in an interview.

This unintentional move drew backlash locally, with people criticizing the library for its backward way of thinking and for targeting the LGBTQIA+ community.

Kirsten Brassard, Marie-Louise Gay’s publicist, said that the action sends a “hateful message” from a public library. “This proves, as always, that censorship is never about limiting access to this book or that one. It is about sending the message to children that certain ideas—or even certain people—are not worthy of discussion or acknowledgment,” says Brassard in an interview.

As of writing, the process of flagging and reviewing books filed as “potentially explicit” had been stopped because of the criticism from the public.

In the United States, the American Library Association (ALA) has been faced with growing demands for books to be censored and removed from libraries. In 2022 alone, the ALA had listed 1,296 demands, which was the organization’s highest number of attempted book bans since they began collecting data on censorship over 20 years ago.

According to them, the “most common reason to ‘challenge’ a book is to protect others, frequently children, from difficult ideas and information, with “sexually explicit” content, “offensive language” or material being “unsuited to any age group” as the reason most often used.



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