I am writing in response to the controversy regarding books in Carmel Clay Schools libraries that supposedly contain explicit materials. I urge the superintendent and the CCS school board not to bend to the juvenile antics of a small group of parents so shocked by what they read that they were unable to stop reading the material out loud.
The books under discussion should remain in CCS libraries. The fact that a book sits on a library shelf does not mean it will be read. After all, people do not watch every single film or TV series available on Netflix. Children who want to read these books will read them. Those who don’t will not.
Far from being the object of mockery, books like those under discussion serve an important purpose. Research on gender and sexual orientation indicates that children as young as five or six can begin to question these aspects of their identity, while middle-school and high-school age students have engaged in masturbation and sexual activity since time immemorial. Where is the harm in a curious child or young adult seeking out information that explains that there is nothing wrong with what they are thinking or doing? The actions of parents on July 26 amount to a public shaming of young people in these situations.
Nor do books like those possibly available from CCS libraries detract from “academic excellence.” I teach at a Midwestern research university and serve as an advisor to first-year students. The students most likely to succeed at university are those who are able to engage in independent intellectual inquiry and who have a healthy awareness of the wider world. This means encountering disruptive and transformative ideas. I prefer my two children to think for themselves, not like me.
Lastly, it is doubtful that a few, mostly unread books in a library constitutes an attack on the “moral fabric” of Carmel as a recent correspondent suggested. What does is the proposal that parents should compile lists of books in every classroom and complain to teachers if they find something objectionable. Virtual book-burnings, or real ones for that matter, have no place in any community.
I fear a small minority of parents advancing a far-right political agenda under the guise of concern for children — whether through objections to supposedly prurient books or manufactured controversies about the teaching of U.S. history — far more than I do the possibility that my children might discover a book about positive sexual behavior or identity in a school library.
Luke Reader, Carmel