NJ library bans gay teen book over complaint from Glenn Beck follower


LGBTQ Nation

A controversial book aimed at gay teens has been banned in the Burlington County, NJ, public library, the decision of a lone librarian acting on a single complaint by a Glenn Beck follower.

The book, Revolutionary Voices: A Multicultural Queer Youth Anthology — a collection of first-person essays by LGBT teen sharing their stories of coming out of the closet — was pulled from the county library after objections from Beverly Marinelli, a Lumberton, NJ woman and a member of the 9.12 Project, a conservative group founded by Beck, a Fox News Channel pundit.

Marinelli described the book as “pervasively vulgar and obscene.”

According to series of emails obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey through a Freedom of Information Act, the Library Commission supported the decision by Gail Sweet, the library’s director, to remove “Revolutionary Voices” from circulation, though “no official challenge” was made, and “no actual vote by the commissioners” was taken.

The emails reveal that Sweet not only wanted the book pulled off the library shelf, she wanted to get rid of any trace of it.

“How can we grab the books so they never, ever get back into circulation?” Sweet wrote to a fellow staffer. “Copies need to totally disappear, as it is not a good idea to send copies to the book sale.”

In April, Marinelli, along with others in the local chapter of the 9/12 Project, successfully lobbied in to have the book removed from Rancocas Valley Regional High School in Mount Holly, NJ.

The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) describes “Revolutionary Voices,” edited by Amy Sonnie, as “the first creative resource by and for queer and questioning youth of every color, class, religion, gender and ability.”

The book features first-hand coming-out accounts from gay students, and “reflections on identity,” according to the School Library Journal, the largest and most authoritative reviewer of children’s and young adult content. It was named as one of the best adult books for high school students by the Journal in 2001.

Sweet cited her decision to remove the book was that it constituted “child pornography.”

The emails can be read here (PDF).

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