A Catholic organization is launching a campaign through the month of June that encourages parents to revolt against books containing sexually explicit and transgenderism content offered to children in public libraries as a part of Pride Month.
CatholicVote, a nonprofit conservative advocacy group, is promoting its second annual “Hide the Pride” campaign, which encourages parents to visit their local libraries and check out as many books as they can that “push eroticism, glorify LGBTQ identities, undermine parental rights and are 100% contrary to the Church’s teaching on love and sexuality” in an effort to prevent others from accessing them, the organization told the Daily Caller News Foundation. Parents joining the campaign are encouraged to participate in groups and request that librarians take their Pride Month display down, the campaign information stated.
“The main point is that this is an initiative aimed at making our public spaces friendly to children and to protect childhood innocence,” Erika Ahern, associate editor of CatholicVote, told the DCNF. “We’re not saying that people who are gay or lesbian or trans, that they have to go hide in closets. That’s not the point at all. We need in order for America to heal its divisions in order for us to come together as a society, the first place we need to make sure is safe is our spaces for our children, particularly in our schools, and our public libraries. The goal is to protect children’s innocence as long as possible.”
During June 2021, the CatholicVote identified 16 titles that are sexually explicit and “glorify LGBTQ identities,” the campaign showed. Some of the books targeted include “Gender Queer,” which contains cartoon images of a girl masturbating and performing oral sex, “All Boys Aren’t Blue,” which does not contain graphic images but describes graphic sexual encounters, and “Julian Is A Mermaid,” a picture book about a little boy who realizes he feels more comfortable dressing as a girl.
The first annual Hide the Pride campaign drew backlash from several organizations including the American Library Association, who criticized the initiative as “censorship.”
“This censorship tactic is being promoted by a fringe Catholic political advocacy group, CatholicVote, via social media and their blog,” Deborah Caldwell-Stone, the American Library Association’s director of intellectual freedom, said in a statement. “Their handout includes a list of targeted books that range from books intended for families and children to materials for young adults. The language used by this organization is couched in terms of ‘child protection,’ but it should be clear that this group is promoting an unethical and hateful censorship tactic that has long been used by censors to circumvent a library’s reconsideration processes and to stigmatize and erase the voices of the LGBTQIA+ community.”
“Our contention back to that kind of rhetoric is, yes, we believe libraries should be for everyone, and these books are very clearly containing explicit sexual content,” Ahern told the DCNF. “I would object to it, whether it was gay sex, whether it was straight sex, it should not be on children’s shelves. The American Library Association came back saying this is hateful. We had pride groups, saying, this is hateful, this is bigoted. But again, it’s one thing to have this kind of material in adult sections where adults at the library can be making their own decisions, it is quite another to be presenting it to children as something you can just casually pull off the shelf.”
After checking the books out, participants are told to place the books on a shelf within their homes that is out of reach of children and take a picture for CatholicVote to share in order to encourage others, the campaign information sheet read.
Across the country parents are pushing to remove sexually explicit content from public libraries and schools; a group of Maine parents created a database of 82 sexually explicit books found in their school district, including “Tricks,” a story about five teenagers who get involved in prostitution. In Michigan, a school board meeting was postponed after Muslim parents protested the presence of sexually explicit books including “This Book Is Gay,” a book that gives the “ins and outs of gay sex,” in the school libraries.
Nick Soltysiak, a parent who participated in the campaign last year, is encouraging other parents to join in this year in an effort to protect the innocence of kids, he told the DCNF.
“One of the other things I wanted to do this year was not only just take off these kinds of gender exploring books from the [Pride] section, but actually replace them at the same time with more religious books and more kind of truthful books about who you are as male and female,” Soltysiak told the DCNF. “I’m gonna encourage that with my friends and members of a [parental rights] group as well.”
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