Several children’s books that some York County, South Carolina residents say are sexually explicit will stay where they are in the children’s section of the public library there.

The York County Library board met June 8 at the Fort Mill branch to hear an appeal from Linda Fisher of Rock Hill, who has previously asked the library to move four books from the children’s section to the adult section. At Thursday’s meeting, Fisher addressed the board before members voted to deny her appeal.

Fisher told the board the books are unclassified, which makes them “invisible.” “You shelve books about mammals, reptiles, ethnic cultures and even holidays by category on one shelf,” she said. “Why aren’t books about human sexuality shelved together, so we can avail ourselves of these resources in a logical manner on one shelf, in one place?”

Julie Ward, director of the York County Library said two of the books are nonfiction and are shelved according to their Dewey subject matter number. The other two are picture books which get shelved by the author.

The four books include: “It Feels Good to Be Yourself,” by Theresa Thorn; “Pink, Blue and You!,” by Elise Gravel and Mykaell Blais; “Twas the Night Before Pride,” by Joanna McClintick; and “The Rainbow Parade,” by Emily Nielson.

The controversy about books came up in early May when York County Councilman Tom Audette said constituents had reached out to him regarding books in the children’s section of the library with content they considered sexually inappropriate. Those who favor moving the books say that would put power in the hands of parents to decide what their children read.

Those who want the books unmoved say the relocation is a form of censorship. While the council has no say in where books are placed on library shelves, the council can cut funding to the library. Audette has not said he plans to propose cutting funds.

At the June 8 meeting, nearly 75 people on both sides of the issue gathered outside the library holding signs that read “bring back books” and “please relocate the books.”

Some residents who want the books moved dressed in red, white and blue, as one held an American flag, while those who oppose moving the books wore the colors of the rainbow or LGBTQ flag.

Several people spoke to the board during the public forum. Fort Mill resident Diane Simone, who addressed the county council in May and spoke to the library board Thursday, drew comparisons between the books at the York County library and pornography. “It’s not a First Amendment right, it’s not censorship, it’s obscene material and it’s against the law,” Simone said.

Tega Cay resident Heather Jones, formerly of Texas, said she believes parents have the right to see what their children view but that parents should have the choice.

She said it becomes disingenuous when one parent gets to dictate what another parent can have access to for their children. “If my child does pick up a book, no one is at the door forcing this book into my child’s hands,” Jones said. “And no one has come here and had somebody sneak a book out of a trench coat into my child’s bag and when I get home suddenly they’ve seen something I don’t want them to see.”

This article appears courtesy of our media partner The Charlotte Observer.

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