Updated: Hearing for LGBTQ-Themed Books Challenged 52 Times

The Hood County (TX) Commissioners' Court will host a hearing regarding "My Princess Boy" by Cheryl Kilodavis and "This Day in June" by Gayle Pitman, despite a Texas public library director's decision to keep them in its collection following patron challenges.
ChallengeTX_Princess_June_alt (UPDATE: July 15 at 12:32 p.m. ET) The Hood County Commissioners' Court declined to vote on whether to retain or remove Gayle Pitman's This Day in June (Magination Press, 2014) and Cheryl Kilodavis's My Princess Boy (Aladdin, 2011) from the Hood County Public Library, during a packed hearing on July 14, essentially upholding the decision of Library Director Courtney Kincaid to keep the LGBTQ books in the collection. Challenges to the LGBTQ-themed children’s books My Princess Boy (Aladdin, 2011) by Cheryl Kilodavis and This Day in June (Magination Press, 2014) by Gayle Pitman are still being considered in Granbury, TX, despite a decision by library director Courtney Kincaid to keep them in the Hood County Library. The library received 52 challenges to the titles in early June, including one from Granbury City Council member Rose Myers, which were filed after a patron asked that Pitman’s award-winning story about an LGBTQ pride parade be removed from a new book display, according to Kincaid. Pitman’s book would “make great kindling,” reads one challenge. Meanwhile, another asserted that Kilodavis’s book would encourage the “transgender lifestyle” among young readers, according to copies of the challenge forms obtained by School Library Journal (SLJ). Challengers hoped to have the books removed from the children’s section of the library. But after considering the challenges, the Hood County Library Advisory Board recommended on June 8 that the titles remain in the collection. Kincaid chose to move This Day In June to the adult nonfiction section “as a teaching tool,” she says. My Princess Boy remained with the picture books in the children’s section. Some community members who were unhappy with the decision requested a hearing with Hood County’s Commissioners’ Court, the county’s governing body, now set for July 14. While opposition persists, support for the library and the books has grown, including backing from the American Library Association (ALA), which submitted a 24-page letter to the Court on July 9. “We urge the Hood County Commissioners’ Court to uphold the freedom to read and the importance of intellectual freedom by supporting the inclusion of these books in the public library children’s collection,” reads the letter signed by Barbara M. Jones, director of ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, and Peter D. Coyl, chair of ALA’s Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table. This Day In June won ALA’s Stonewall Book Award this year. Kristin Pekoll, assistant director for ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, says that while she thinks the story could, ideally, be shelved in the children’s section, she respects the difficulty Kincaid faced in making her decision. “She is trying to make a compromise to keep the book in the library and yet satisfy some of the concerns of her community,” says Pekoll. ALA, in its letter, also offered its “full support to the director and librarians of Hood County Library.” Pitman is content that her picture book is remaining in the library collection, but its placement in the adult section is “not how I envisioned the book,” she says. “On the other hand, librarians know their communities better than anyone else. And they made the decision they needed to make.” Complaints listed on the 52 challenge forms vary. One contended that My Princess Boy’s purpose was “to promote the homosexual lifestyle to young children,” while another objected to This Day in June’s promotion of an “unChristian lifestyle.” Mel Birdwell, wife of Texas State Senator Brian Birdwell (R), who represents Hood County, is encouraging people to “pack the courtroom” on July 14 so “they can see how serious Christians are regarding this issue,” according to email written by her and obtained by SLJ. In the email, Birdwell also identifies two additional books, Todd Parr’s The Family Book (Little, Brown, 2003) and Lesléa Newman’s Heather Has Two Mommies (Alyson Wonderland, 1989)  as “questionable.” Council member Myers wrote on her Facebook page that if “…the library would not move the books and keep them in an appropriate location, then they should be removed.” About her decision, Kincaid says she’s trying to appeal to all members of her community, but the experience has been “difficult.” “We buy items for the entire population, not just certain political or religious groups,” she says. “But a lot of the challenge forms were negative and some were hateful. A handful were educated responses, which I appreciated. But it was a difficult task reading through all 52 of those.”

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