Ex-Gay Books For Children?
A library in Wisconsin which came under fire for stocking books positively affirming homosexuality has now been branded “discriminatory” and condemned for “not being interested in diversity” because it has refused to stock books by so called ex-gay authors.
West Bend Library was condemned by the Christian Civil Liberties Union in June of this year for stocking Baby Be-Bop, a book aimed at young adults by author Francesca Lia Block in which the main character, Dirk, struggles with his sexuality and against homophobic attacks.
The group petitioned for the book, and books like it, to be removed. They failed. Now a group called the Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays & Gays, or PFOX as they are more popularly known (a counter-balance to gay affirming PFLAG), are now claiming the following:
“Many of the gay books promote homosexual behavior to youth and are the subject of protests by concerned parents, whose request to have the books moved to the adult section were denied. Our requests that the Library balance some of its homosexual material for children with material written by ex-gays or with a heterosexual slant have been ignored.”
There is more, and it doesn’t sound all that friendly, but I just want to stop here and look at that paragraph for a moment:
- “Many of the gay books promote homosexual behavior to youth…” – it’s always good to get off on a strong “homosexual agenda” related foot, isn’t it?
- “…whose request to have the books moved to the adult section were denied…” – probably because thw books in question were for young adults, so moving them to the adult-only section of the library would rather undermine their purpose… oh no, I see where you’re going with that. That’s quite clever.
- “… with material written by ex-gays or with a heterosexual slant…” – a heterosexual slant? There are no books in West Bend Library that have examples of heterosexuality? Really? Then the library has bigger problems than just this complaint because it in fact has largely empty shelves it would seem.
I’m being glib but there’s a reason for that. These are all very polite words, but what this paragraph seems to really says is, we (or a group sharing our ideology) attempted to have gay related books banned in the children’s section because we think being gay is wrong or sinful, but we were unsuccessful, so now we want to promote our ex-gay agenda (it works both ways) and this is how we’re going to do it: through diversity rules.
“Apparently, the West Bend Community Memorial Library is not interested in diversity. We urge Michael Tyree, the library’s director, to be inclusive of the ex-gay community and accept our donation of ex-gay books. According to its own policy, the Library has a ‘professional responsibility to be inclusive, not exclusive, in developing collections.’”
“For a library to provide children’s books which promote homosexuality while denying ex-gay books smacks of censorship and indoctrination of youth with a one-sided ideology.”
“We call upon Deborah Caldwell-Stone, acting director of the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, to publicly condemn the censoring of ex-gay books in any community. Public libraries should be for everyone.”
Indeed, public libraries should be for everyone, but notice how the words “indoctrination of youth” sprang up along with “one-sided ideology”. Again, not particularly gay-friendly, and it begs the question, are PFOX planning on bringing out a range of ex-gay literature for children? If not, the two are not equivocal in any way. That’s not to say that the library shouldn’t stock ex-gay literature, it’s just a bad and manipulative comparison to use.
In a report published recently, the American Psychological Association (APA) have formally restated that ex-gay therapy is not only next to useless, with no credible scientific evidence to back-up claims that its patients have undergone complete or even partial conversion to heterosexuality, it is in fact potentially harmful to attempt to change someone’s orientation.
The APA (having long been against conversion therapy) reiterates its findings which state that trying to impose heterosexuality as the only valid, healthy way to live, and that everything else is a negative lifestyle choice in need of correction through “reparative therapy”, serves only to reinforce negative self belief and can, for some people, lead to depression and suicidal tendencies. Imagine, then, the damage it could do to children.
Instead, the report urges acceptance of homosexuality. It concludes there is no viable process through which to “convert”, and instead, patients should be given an appropriate regime of counseling in order to try and come to terms with their own nature, and, if it is impossible to live a life enjoying homosexual relationships, to learn to practice celibacy as a means of managing unhappiness about same-sex attraction.
Internally, ex-gay organizations often suggest they have a much higher success rate than the negligible one that is reported by the wider scientific community.
Within days of the APA publishing their report, two psychologists, Stanton L. Jones and Mark A. Yarhouse (following-up a study they conducted two years ago quizzically called Ex-Gays?) released a paper which many ex-gay organizations are calling “groundbreaking”.
They suggest that of 61 subjects followed over “a span of six to seven years” (well, which is it?) 53% reported “successfully leaving homosexuality and living happily as heterosexual or celibate persons”. Read a related article overview with links to the study here.
Never mind that patients logged their own activity and so the veracity of their claims is tenuous, even the study admits that 30% of that “success” figure are subjects choosing to live a life of celibacy. That’s not a cure.
I am also suspicious of wording which says “23% reported a successful conversion to heterosexual attractions”, because that’s not language indicative of a firm result but rather an indication that some of those subjects in question have fostered heterosexual relationships, yet without a qualifier for those relationships (are they happy, functional in the traditional sense and with both partners satisfied?) it seems the study’s findings are problematic at best.
So should the ALA be made to stock ex-gay books? My personal opinion is yes, unequivocally so for adult readers. But should those books be available for children as the PFOX statement seems to infer? I have to say that in the interests of child welfare, no. And I hesitate to imagine what form those books would take.
That little Timmy was struggling with some “secret” attractions until specialist counseling from the good folks at PFOX made the bad gay feelings go away?
Would the book then go on to say that, later, little Timmy was catapulted into an adult life marred by a cycle of self-loathing, dysfunction and depression, that eventually culminated in a suicide attempt? In the interests of full disclosure, and to fall in line with what the American Psychological Association think, perhaps it should.