A public library in Burlington County, New Jersey has ordered all of the copies of “Revolutionary Voices: A Multicultural Queer Youth Anthology” removed from circulation, after a member of Glenn Beck’s 9/12 Project complained about the book’s content.
The library cited “child pornography” as its reason for removing the book.
The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) describes “Revolutionary Voices,” edited by Amy Sonnie, as “the first creative resource by and for queer and questioning youth of every color, class, religion, gender and ability.” It features first-hand coming-out accounts from gay students, and “reflections on identity,” according to the School Library Journal. It was also named as one of the best adult books for high school students by the Journal in 2001.
But, according to Beverly Marinelli, a member of the 9/12 Project in Burlington County, the content is much more sinister than that. In an interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer, Marinelli called it “pervasively vulgar, obscene, and inappropriate.” Marinelli maintained she’s “not a homophobe,” but called a drawing of Boy Scouts watching two men have sex, “the worst.”
The ACLU-NJ obtained emails through a Freedom of Information Act request that reveal that Marinelli met with Gail Sweet, the library’s director, in April. Following their meeting, Sweet arranged for the Library Commission to discuss the book’s removal that month.
The Commission ultimately supported the decision to remove “Revolutionary Voices” from circulation, though “no official challenge” was made, and “no actual vote by the commissioners” was taken, according to Sweet’s emails. The reasoning was that the book constituted “child pornography.”
In an email to the library’s circulation coordinator, Sweet asked: “How can we grab the books so that they never, ever get back into ccirculation [sic]. Copies need to totally disappear (as in not a good idea to send copies to the book sale).”
Sweet responded to TPM’s request for comment with a brief, “Thank you for your interest but I do not have any comments to make.”
In emails to Sweet, Marinelli linked to articles by conservative websites Big Government and Gateway Pundit, which quote some of the other content in “Revolutionary Voices” that they found objectionable.
Take this excerpt, for example:
I learned the truth about Santa Claus and masturbation in the same year. I was 9. I had a hunch about Santa, but I had no clue about masturbation. I mean, I had no clue there was anything wrong with it. As far as I know, I’ve been masturbating my whole life. But it wasn’t until 9 that I realized it was an impulse that you had to turn off. Especially in class. Fourth grade craft time taught me shame.
Notably, the Gateway Pundit post that Marinelli linked to is mostly targeting Kevin Jennings, who the right-wing accused of having a “pro-homosexual agenda” after President Obama nominated him as director of the Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools.
Around the same time the Burlington library took “Revolutionary Voices” out of circulation, it was also removed from the Rancocas Valley Regional High School library after complaints by Marinelli and others in the local chapter of the 9/12 Project.
Marinelli did not immediately return TPM’s request for comment.
The e-mails can be read here in .pdf form.