CARO, Mich. (Michigan News Source) – A Tuscola County pastor is sounding the alarm over what he calls graphic books filled with erotica in the children’s section of the Caro Area District Library.
James Brandt is the pastor at Living Waters Chapel in Caro. He told Michigan News Source two of the three books are available in the children’s section while one is marketed to teens.
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“What struck me is the explicit content in those books,” Brandt said. “It is absolute straight-up porn and perversion. These books discuss anal sex, kinks, and fetishes.”
The three books in question are “It’s Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, and Sexual Health by Robie Harris and Michael Emberley, and “Sex is a Fun Word” by Cory Silverberg and Fiona Smyth. The other book, “Let’s Talk About It: The Teen’s Guide to Sex, Relationships, and Being Human” by Erica Moen and Matthew Nolan is in the teen reading section.
Michigan News Source reached out to Erin Schmandt, the director of the Caro Area District Library. Her voicemail said she was out of the office. We left a message for the Children’s Department to confirm the location of those books but were not contacted by press time.
A search of the library’s online catalog confirmed those books are there, in addition to several other libraries around Michigan.
“Because I’m a pastor people automatically have their wall up, but this goes beyond religion,” Brandt said. “Every adult and especially parents would keep this garbage away from their children. These books have pictures you would probably find in Playboy and Penthouse.”
The Caro Area District Library Board of Trustees made this statement, in part, on its website:
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Our Library Board is made up of seven elected community members. We are volunteers; we do not get paid. We are serving the public because we believe in the mission of the public library and we want to help the community.
The library board acts as the public trustee of the library. The community entrusts the library’s wellbeing to the board and expects the board to keep the library running correctly and to ensure that the best possible services are provided. Boards also have the responsibility to see that adequate funding is secured and maintained. We do not have the authority to monitor what they do outside of their role as a library board member.
We support a patrons’ right to choose what to read or what not to read. We support a parents’ right to make choices for their minor children. We do not support a system in which a patron can dictate what Constitutionally- protected materials others have access to read because the patron disagrees with the subject matter or message of the book. Public libraries are about freedom of information and access. As a public institution, the library support and follow the liberties and protections guaranteed by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.
Libraries around Michigan have faced similar battles recently. On Tuesday, the Peter White Public Library Board of Trustees in Marquette held discussions with concerned residents but ultimately voted to keep “This Book is Gay” by Juno Dawson on its shelves.
“I do not now, and I never will, support a ban of any book,” said Peter White Trustee Carol Steinhaus. My attitudes and values are not more important than anyone else’s. I believe that everyone has a right to intellectual freedom and freedom of speech and I will not interfere with that regardless of the topic any book might have,” she said.
Last week, The Lapeer District Library Board unanimously denied a request from a patron to remove “Gender Queer” by Maia Kobabe and “Fred Gets Dressed” by Peter Brown from its shelves.
Pastor Brandt says he hopes common sense will prevail on the Caro Library Board at the next meeting on June 12, like moving explicit books behind the library desk or into the adult section.
“That would be a step in the right direction,” Brandt said. “I want parents to get involved and not feel hopeless. Let your voices be heard and get involved in the process.”
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