ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – No words were minced at the Abilene Public Library’s Advisory Board meeting Monday afternoon, when about 60 Abilenians expressed concerns for a book many say should be removed from the library due to its content, and the sensitive age group the book targets.
“The book has stuff not even I would look at. I believe is very vulgar, explicit in content. Not only just in description, but also in pictures,” said concerned parent and organizer, James Sargent.
The book in question is Let’s Talk About It: The Teens Guide to Sex, Relationships, and Being a Human by Matthew Nolan and Erika Moen. The book can be found in the Abilene Public Library’s Young Adult section. It contains various illustrations of different body types in the nude, descriptions and depictions of various sex acts, and encourages self exploration.
At the meeting, concerned parents showed these specific pages to be causes of concern:
“I don’t want my kids seeing this,” one parent said during public comment.
Some, like Sargent, claim that this book should be considered pornography under Texas Penal code 43.22.
“A lot of it depicts the distribution of that to minors,” Sargent explained. “So if it’s Texas law, why is it different for the Abilene public library?”
Others argued at Monday’s meeting that books like this one should be available for certain age groups, to foster a healthy view on sex as they mature.
“The human body is not something that we need to be shy about, and that’s information that kids need to know… There are some older teens that that would not be appropriate for. It’s a matter of maturity level,” said concerned parent and former Abilene teacher Monica Warn-Walker.
After hearing comment from both sides, the advisory board voted unanimously to create a three-person committee to put the book under review. That committee will be appointed at a later date.
This group of Abilene residents also made an appearance to tackle another issue: 100 or more books many feel should be removed from the Children and Young Adult sections, and moved to its own section focused on sexuality.
“We’re not asking that any of these be removed or burned or anything, we’re asking that they take all the sexually explicit material and section it off to one section,” said Ryan Goodwin, parent and organizer.
Even still, some have taken issue with what exactly is being considered explicit.
“We have the freedom to choose how we live and how we raise our children. That freedom is taken away from me when, on the end cap, it says The Bride Was a Boy in the Children’s section,” one mother said from the podium.
Taking a more education-based approach, Warn-Walker continued, “All of us in Abilene are very opposed to pornography at any age. I think our differences is in what we consider to be pornography. If there’s a book that just talks about heather having two mommies, that’s just a loving relationship… There’s no pornography in that.”
Those opposed to this kind of content, like Goodwin and Sargent, said they weren’t out to shame or stifle any specific group.
“We’re not trying to isolate one group or another,” Goodwin said, “we really would just like to see it all put together into one section.”
On the other hand, some parents said that kind of picking and choosing could be a slippery slope.
“You need to understand that censorship is not just about banning materials, it’s also about creating barriers to access,” Warn-Walker added.