Wednesday, September 8, 2010

sex education

In “The Secret Source” (2006) Amy Pattee writes: “I argue that sexuality should not be censored in young adult fiction; in fact, scenes of intimacy should read as close to the truth—of the physical act and the emotional investment—as possible....  Young adult literature has the potential to fill in the gaps left by sexuality education curricula by depicting the many ways—from abstinence to intercourse—young people may choose to be intimate” (32).

The National Coalition Against Censorship writes: “abstinence-only education either ignores or denounces homosexuality, and [many occurrences of censorship] indicate the resistance to including material in libraries and curricula that present same sex relationships as healthy or ‘normal’” (NCAC).

And in an interview with Brent Hartinger by the Kids' Right to Read Project, he says, “the sexuality in my book [Geography Club] is pretty mild, especially compared to other teen novels.  In most cases, I think that’s just an excuse to attack it because it involves—shhhh! mustn’t be spoke out loud!—gay people."

All of these quotes show the necessity for a growing body of literature that takes sexuality seriously and also reveals that there is no such thing as "normal" when it comes to sex.  Not really.  What some people consider normal (ie, homosexuality, masturbation), others consider abnormal or immoral.  But libraries are not places that decide what is normal and what is not.  They are places where people can go to discover that they are not alone, that they are not the only one who likes the same gender.

Robie Harris wrote a book called It's Perfectly Normal: A Book about Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, and Sexual Health.  And yes, you guessed it, it's been challenged in libraries and classrooms across North America for the majority of the last 6 years.  One group has even decided that the book is pornographic.  Why is it that a book which attempts to show that kids shouldn't be ashamed of their sexuality is considered to be immoral, unethical, obscene, and graphic?  Life shouldn't be censored, and neither should growing up, or discovering sexuality.  That's my rant.

Robie Harris
It's Perfectly Normal: A Book about Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, and Sexual Health (Candlewick Press)

A Lewiston, Maine patron refused to return the acclaimed sex education book from the Lewiston and Auburn public libraries (2007) because she was "sufficiently horrified by the illustrations and sexually graphic, amoral, abnormal contents." A police investigation found the library did not violate the town ordinance against obscenity and the patron who removed the book from the library will stand trial for theft.
Restricted, but later returned to general circulation shelves with some limits on student access, based on a review committee’s recommendations, at the Holt Middle School parent library in Fayetteville, Ark. (2005) despite a parent’s complaint that it was sexually explicit.

Robert P. Doyle Books Banned and Challenged 2004-2009.

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