Greenwich Has Received Complaints About Library Book: Camillo

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GREENWICH, CT — A book that has sparked controversy around the country has now sparked some debate in Greenwich.

In his weekly newsletter to the community last Friday, First Selectman Fred Camillo said he’s received complaints about the young adult book “Gender Queer: A Memoir” which is available at Greenwich Library.

The book, written and illustrated by Maia Kobabe, who is nonbinary, recounts the author’s journey from adolescence to adulthood and discusses gender identity and sexuality.

The book features sexual illustrations.

“It was brought to my attention this week that some residents are offended by a very graphic young adult book available at our library,” Camillo said in his newsletter. “I personally found this book to be disgusting. I reached out to Library Director Barbara Ormerod-Glynn who explained the process to object to materials available at the Library.”

Camillo told Patch this week many people have taken to social media to object to the book.

“It was highly inappropriate for being in a library where kids have access to it. In society, you put a lot of protections aside for children, whether it’s not allowing them to have alcohol or tobacco, and that’s physical health, and there’s a mental health aspect to it, too,” Camillo said.

“When you’re that young and 12 years old, and you have books in there regarding subjects like that with very vivid illustrations of sexual acts — that, to me, is something that should be a protection offered by adults until [children] are the right age,” Camillo added.

Camillo went on to say that this is not a free speech issue.

“This is not stifling debate,” he said. “This is more mental and emotional.”

According to the American Library Association, “Gender Queer: A Memoir” was the most challenged book in the country 2021. It was “banned, challenged, and restricted for LGBTQIA+ content, and because it was considered to have sexually explicit images,” the ALA said.

PEN America, a free speech organization, said the book was banned in 30 school districts from July 1, 2021 to March 31, 2022.

Greenwich Library has a process for reviewing and potentially removing books.

Greenwich Library Director Barbara Ormerod-Glynn said in a statement to Patch that the library has received two inquiries of concern about the book. Going into Tuesday, the library had not received a request for consideration of removal.

“All of Greenwich Library’s collections are governed by its Collection Development Policy and materials may not be removed from our collection without following this measured process,” Ormerod-Glynn said.

According to the policy:

“The Library is guided by the American Library Association’s (ALA) Library Bill of Rights and Freedom to Read statement. The Library recognizes that some resources may be controversial and that any given item may offend some individuals. Only the individual can determine what is most appropriate for him or her. Parents, caregivers, and legal guardians have the responsibility for their children’s use of Library collections and access to the Internet through the Library’s computers.”

Section VIII of the Collection Development Policy explains the process for challenging any items in the library’s collection.

Those who object to certain library materials can fill out a Request for Consideration form, which can be accessed online.

The form asks five key questions:

  1. The identity of the person completing the form
  2. The identity of the item being questioned
  3. If the entire resource has been examined
  4. The specific concerns about the item with page references
  5. Suggestions for additional information or other viewpoints on the topic

Requests get reviewed, and Ormerod-Glynn will respond in writing to the individual’s request. Decisions can be appealed to the Library Board of Trustees.

“Decisions on appeals are based on a review of the objection, the resource, applicable Greenwich Library policy, and the ALA Library Bill of Rights and Freedom to Read Statement. The final decision on appeals rests with the Greenwich Library Board of Trustees,” the library’s political states.

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