Recently in my community, there was an attempt to have The Every Body Book: The LGBTQ+ Inclusive Guide for Kids about Sex, Gender, Bodies, and Families by Rachel E. Simon removed from the children’s section of our local library. The person who challenged the book wanted it moved to the adult section, calling it inappropriate. Fortunately, our library board decided not to do that and the book remains in the children’s section where it belongs. I am proud to be among a group of local community members who went before the library board to voice our support for their decision and to make sure we spoke out against book bans and challenges. I encourage you all to remain aware of what is happening in your communities, and support the Freedom to Read wherever you are.
Here is the statement I gave to the library board:
My name is Judy Campbell-Smith. I support the inclusion of The Every Body Book in the children’s section of the Ontario library.
I have read the Every Body Book and can say that is factual, informative, and straightforward on the topic of puberty and sex. It is not pornographic as some have suggested. The book is actually similar to other kids’ puberty books in the library, but is distinctive in that it is written in a way that affirms LGBTQ people and their experiences. This isn’t some hidden agenda; it’s right there in the books’ subtitle. As a parent, I personally would be fine to read this to my child and I don’t believe they would be damaged by coming across this book.
If a book is offensive to me, or contains information I don’t want my child to read, I should monitor my child’s reading activities. Other parents are free to make a different choice. Some parents in the community want a book like The Every Body Book to read with their kids, and there are kids in our community who want and NEED this book for themselves.
As an author, I know not everyone will like or agree with things I write, but I understand that not every book is for everyone. But it would be troubling to know that those who disagree with my work are able to block access for others who want to read it. The Every Body Book went through a review process to be included in the library’s collection in the first place. This challenge has caused it be re-reviewed again and again. I hope the board will continue to stand by its own policies and procedures, using best practices, including the Freedom to Read regarding this book and all others going forward.
As a community member, I am aware that LGBTQ books are being challenged and banned in increasing numbers around the country. These challenges, including this one here with The Every Body Book, are unfair and marginalize LGBTQ individuals in our community. I hope we can treat each other the way we want to be treated and remember that the library belongs to all of us in the community. Thank you.
October 11, 2022