When your child starts reading, their world explodes. Suddenly, it’s not just books that are accessible, but also street signs and cereal boxes and TV and restaurant menus. Now they can see ALL of the options available to them…even if we don’t want them to.
No longer can we block them from watching shows that annoy us by skipping over them on the TV menu (we’re looking at you, Caillou) or get them to order broccoli by telling them the restaurant has no French fries.
There is probably no better metaphor for controlling people by withholding information. It also highlights different parenting styles: some parents opt for the argument instead (“yes, Caillou is on but if I watch it one more time you will need to get me a straightjacket”) while some practice child-led parenting by sharing all of the options and hoping their kids remember the importance of vegetables.
We understand that some parents will want to keep darker book themes or the existence of homosexuality away from their children because it will make for some uncomfortable conversations. We might have to explain that yes, some families are different from us and have two mommies, or no, people with dark skin haven’t been (and still aren’t) always treated so nicely. It’s just easier to keep certain topics out of sight as long as possible.
You don’t know what you don’t know…until you read about it.
Libraries, both school and public, are vital educational resources. Sure, most of us could place an Amazon order or an e-book from the library, but this is because in Downingtown we are not in the 12.6% of Americans who still don’t have reliable broadband access. Most of us also have public libraries 10-15 minutes away and have time for trips there, thanks to not having to work multiple jobs to make ends meet. But these are privileges that not every American enjoys.
Almost no American believes in censorship; it goes against everything our country stands for. Yet statistics on censorship compiled by the Office for Intellectual Freedom show a dramatic increase in the last three years in the number of unique titles challenged. 48% of those were in public libraries and 41% were in school libraries.
“Parental rights” doesn’t mean that some parents get to decide what should be kept away from ALL kids.
How would we even choose which parents get to make that decision?
Most of us understand the dangers of keeping our children in a bubble, and we know there are age appropriate ways to teach them concepts like consent and stranger danger…and the existence of people who are gay. Many people want their children to have access to books including queer characters because we understand the danger of them forcing themselves to be something they are not. And, as most of us are straight, how could we possibly educate them on what it is like to grow up as a queer person?
We also want them to learn about racism and the experiences of people of color because again, if we are white, we cannot tell them what that is like to grow up with darker skin.
Did you know that your school wasn’t getting it’s fair share of funding?
Neither did we…
Pennsylvanians recently won a landmark fair funding lawsuit against the PA Department of Education…but how many PA families even realized that we had grounds to sue the state in the first place? It took someone extremely educated to realize that PA wasn’t funding our schools fairly and to gather the resources needed to build that case.
Deny a person their education, and you can deny them their rights without them even knowing it.
Control gets so much easier.
You’ll never even have to have that argument with your kids about French fries or broccoli. By the time they realize that French fries are an option for other people, they’ll have been so fully indoctrinated to obediently accept that FRENCH FRIES ARE DEMONIC that you’ll never have to worry about them ordering them, even after they leave your house.
But hey, at least we got to avoid more episodes of Caillou, right?
Call To Action
If you agree with us that library books should be chosen by qualified librarians, send you librarian a note of support. Thank them for doing their job well, and let them know that you are in their corner. They’ve likely been getting a lot of heat from people who think that any mention of sex is the same thing as pornography, or people who have been looking at that one page of Gender Queer and deciding that the rest of the book couldn’t possibly be of value.
And come join us at the next school board meeting or our next Community Connections event to learn more about what the hot topics facing our district are. You’ll meet some interesting people, help improve your children’s schools, and maybe even have some fun.