Wyoming Librarians Could Face Prosecution Over Sexually Explicit Books in Children's Section

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Posted: Oct 01, 2021 11:00 PM
Wyoming Librarians Could Face Prosecution Over Sexually Explicit Books in Children's Section

Source: AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko

Employees at a Wyoming library are facing possible prosecution after local residents complained to police that books at the library about sex, LGBTQ issues, and how to have a baby are obscene and do not belong in sections designated for youth.

According to Susan Sisti, a local pastor who has raised concerns about the inappropriate books shelved at Campbell County Public Library, the books in question are "This Book is Gay" by Juno Dawson, "How Do You Make a Baby" by Anna Fiske, "Doing It" by Hannah Witton, "Sex is a Funny Word" by Corey Silverberg, and "Dating and Sex: A Guide for the 21st Century Teen Boy" by Andrew P. Smiler.

"It’s really easy to go into the library and look around a little bit and find a filthy book that should not even be in a public library," Sisti said, according to The Associated Press. "These books are absolutely appalling."

Prosecutors are now reviewing the case after a complaint was filed with the sheriff's office. They will look to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the situation as well before a determination is made on whether charges against library staff will be pursued, County Attorney Mitchell Damsky announced Friday.

Damsky, the prosecutor, said that the controversy over the books has "gotten contentious and out of hand" when the situation may have been resolved by moving the books to the adult section.

"Personally, as a parent, I find the material to be just inappropriate for children and disgusting," Damsky said. "But as a lawyer I’m sworn to uphold the Constitution and that’s why we are dealing with it with a fine-toothed comb."

Local residents Hugh and Susan Bennett on Wednesday complained to the Campbell County Sheriff’s Office that the books may have been in violation of state child-sex laws.

"It’s very challenging to imagine how a child who’s sexually immature, physically immature, if there’s any reasonable purpose for exposing them to sexual behavior that’s far beyond their physical and mental and emotional and intellectual abilities to understand," Hugh Bennett said.

"This Book is Gay," as Sisti pointed out, features illustrations of male and female genitalia and descriptions of oral and anal sex. 

However, as Damsky suggested, children already have access to pornography through the internet.

"What 9-year-old kid today can’t access Pornhub or whatever they want, you know what I mean?" Damsky said.

Wyoming Equality, an LGBTQ advocacy group, argues that it is the responsibility of parents to dictate when their children should access these books.

"Maybe the answer is never. If it’s never, that’s fine. But do you get to make that choice for other families?" Sara Burlingame, the group's executive director, said.

This comes as officials at the library have been facing local outrage over not only the books, but also for scheduling a transgender magician to perform for children. The act was cancelled following threats to the magician and library staff.

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