Gov. Kay Ivey released a letter to the director of the Alabama Public Library Service, containing questions and strong concerns over the material being exposed to students across the state in public libraries.
Her letter follows heightened concern from parents and lawmakers over inappropriate reading content available to young children – including graphic, sexual themes, guidance for gender transition and age-inappropriate ideas about identity.
So far, groups in Prattville, Madison County, North Shelby County, Dale County and Foley have all made a push to scrub these materials from the childrens’ section of their local libraries.
“Especially given libraries’ importance to society, I have grown increasingly concerned due to recent reports calling into question whether our own libraries here in Alabama are most effectively fulfilling this important mission,” Ivey wrote to Dr. Nancy Pack, director of the library service.
“The heart of the issue seems to be the exposure of children and youth to inappropriate, sexually suggestive materials without adequate means of parental supervision. According to reports, the children’s section of the Foley Public Library has featured a book called ‘Who are You?: The Kid’s Guide to Gender Identity,’ which is marketed to five- to eight-year olds for ‘understanding and celebrating the gender diversity that surrounds us.’”
Ivey said the Prattville Public Library’s toddler and children’s section has reportedly featured “The Pronoun Book,” – a book for three- year olds to learn about “preferred pronouns,” and “If You re A Kid Like Gavin,” which is a self-proclaimed story about “gender transition” targeted at children between four and eight years old.
She also referenced a recent push by parents and leaders in Ozark to remove sexually explicit books from the young adult section of the Dale County Library.
“This list could go on, but the important point, as I understand it, is that each of these books has been made freely available in the very part of the library where children and youth are most likely to browse,” Ivey wrote.
“As several parents have eloquently put it, their concern is not about removing these books. The concern is about ensuring that these books are placed in an appropriate location.”
In April, former Alabama Secretary of Early Education Dr. Barbra Cooper drew ire from Ivey over “woke concepts” featured in pre-K teaching materials.
In a recent op-ed, State Rep. Susan DuBose called for Alabama libraries to disaffiliate from what she calls a “Marxist” national organization: the American Library Association (ALA).
“The ALA has long been a conduit to allow libraries across the country to bring in pornographic and age-inappropriate books, fight against internet filters that block porn access, and resist concerns from residents who want libraries to represent local community standards and protect children,” DuBose said.
Ivey laid out similar guidance in her letter to Pack.
“Rather than supporting Alabama families, out-of-state library groups like the American Library Association appear to be making the situation worse,” she wrote.
“Considering the foregoing facts, it is not surprising that Alabama parents are raising concerns about both the content on display in some Alabama libraries as well as the general approach of Alabama libraries towards parental involvement.”
Ivey issued nine questions toPack, seeking answers ahead of a Sept. 13 meeting of the library service’s executive board meeting.
The questions involved requests for information around steps being taken to provide “ parents with means to supervise their children and youth before encountering age-inappropriate materials?”
She also requested insight into the organization’s role in advising local libraries about hosting events by concerned parents in Madison and Millbrook.
“I am deeply grateful for the work Alabama libraries do, day in and day out, to engage our children and promote a lifelong love of learning—including by providing information that may be unavailable elsewhere in a community,” said Ivey, a former educator.
“At the same time, however, I respect parents who want their young children and teens to be able to freely explore a library without fear of what those children will find there.”
Grayson Everett is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @Grayson270