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Education Reporter

Parents Work with Local Library for Age-Appropriate Materials

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Laura Kostial and her 11-year-old daughter didn't expect to be confronted on a visit to their local library with books promoting both homosexual and heterosexual teen sex. The library, St. Louis County's Daniel Boone Branch in Ellisville, Missouri, recently opened a separate teen department for patrons ages 11-16. The teen department offered this age group such titles as Making Sexual Decisions: The Ultimate Teen Guide, Homosexuality: What Does it Mean?, Teen Fatherhood, Prostitution and Sex Trafficking, Growing up Gay in America and others.

The books' content made it hard to believe that the library shelved them at all, let alone in a section for children as young as eleven. Laura Kostial discovered that some of these books graphically described specific sexual acts and how to perform them, step-by-step. Many of the books also offered generous helpings of very bad advice.

From Growing up Gay in America: "Do you have to date guys your age? Of course not! While there are laws prohibiting adults from engaging in sex with minors, you're free to date guys who are younger or much older. In fact, it's common and perfectly normal for teen guys to be attracted to people who are older or even a few years younger."

From Homosexuality: What Does it Mean?: "Experts still don't know what determines a person's sexual orientation. However, they do know it is not a choice. Sexual orientation appears to be set early in life, probably by age eight."

From Making Sexual Decisions: "Knowing that they may not always agree with their family or church and that that does not make them a bad person may help" teens to feel less guilty about their sexual decisions.

Laura Kostial and fellow homeschooling mother Jeannine Floyd led a community effort to question these books' presence in a section of the library dedicated to pre-teens and teens. After some initial setbacks, they were able to engage in a productive conversation with library personnel.

The library is creating a committee to review the age-appropriateness of the books in question. The committee will also reevaluate how the library acquires and classifies books. Because the staff does not normally review new books that come in to the teen section, the library did not know these books contained such graphic content. The Daniel Boone branch has now promised to reclassify explicit books as "Adult" and remove them from the library's teen section. If the staff finds that the books lack any merit that would make them worth retaining, they will simply get rid of them.

Other branches in the same system and in other areas, however, circulate the same books and make them accessible to equally young children.

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