Friday, March 27, 2009

West Bend Library gets complaint about gay-themed books; board meeting postponed

The West Bend Community Memorial Library board, upon the advice of the city attorney, postponed its March 26th meeting where they were to hear a complaint from local residents Jim and Ginny Maziarka about gay-themed books in the library. According to library director Michael Tyree, the Maziarkas have complained in person and via a blog about The Perks of Being a Wallflower, The Geography Club, Deal With It, It's Perfectly Normal and other books in the young adult section of the library. However, Tyree says that the focus of their complaint keeps changing and enlarging. Therefore, the city attorney has asked the complainants to provide a clear statement of their complaint before the library board agrees to another meeting to consider it.

The first meeting to hear the complaint, held March 3, drew more than 300 people, including representatives from the ACLU of Wisconsin. Upon the advice of the assistant city attorney, the board adjourned the meeting without taking action because of the size of the crowd was larger than the City Council chambers could legally accommodate.

Ginny Maziarka, one of the complainants who blogs as "West Bend Citizen Advocate", writes, "If you live in West Bend, Germantown, Hartford, Slinger and Kewaskum, this meeting is for you. If you live in Dodge, Jefferson, Racine, Walworth and or Washington County - you are part of the shared library system. TAKE NOTICE."


Michael Zimmer said...

You might be interested in this announcement: UW-Milwaukee School of Information Studies Statement of Support for the West Bend Library

Lynn said...

I feel empathy for such close-minded beliefs. Although I am not familiar with the books, I am familiar with the difficulties faced by gay youth and we need to encourage and support this sub-culture, and literature is one way to accomplish this. We need to celebrate the diversity of life, not shun it. Proponents for this complaint should educate themselves better on the difficulties of being different, whether race or sexual orientation, before condemning it. As long as the books are not too sexually explicit, in other words, not any worse than any other book one can obtain from the library, then maybe by reading these books this fear can be absolved and turned into knowledge. It's a shame when people judge without knowledge and that is scarier than anything these books can do. I applaud anyone open-minded enough to look into what kind of damage that could be caused singling out this literature because it's specifically gay-oriented when there is so much worse out there. It sends a terrible message to gay youth and tells our children it is ok to stay closed minded as to what is around us.