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Pella city leaders discuss removing controversial LGBTQ book from public library

<i>KCCI</i><br/>Some people want a controversial book banned from the Pella Public Library.
KCCI
KCCI
Some people want a controversial book banned from the Pella Public Library.

By Laura Terrell

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    PELLA, Iowa (KCCI) — Some people want a controversial book banned from the Pella Public Library.

There was a heated debate over the topic at the city council meeting Tuesday night.

Banning controversial books is a topic popping up in many school districts across Iowa, but this is the first time we are hearing about it in a public city library.

“This book is not for kids’ eyes. You cannot say the pictures are not pornographic,” Robyn Vander Molen said.

Vander Molen is one of several Pella parents who want the book “Gender Queer” out of the city’s public library.

She says graphic sexual images are the problem.

“I don’t care if this book was for straight people. I would be up here doing the same thing,” Vander Molen said.

“Gender Queer” sits on the ‘Adult Graphic Novel’ section of the library. The Pella Library says this is the first time a book has ever been challenged.

Pella’s Public Library Director, Mara Strickler, said the library board conducted its review process and decided unanimously to keep the book.

“Public libraries need to meet the needs of the entire community, not just one portion of it,” Strickler said.

She said it does not violate library policy and the library has a responsibility to offer a wide variety of materials.

Several people backed the library, saying no one should censor what’s on the shelves, and the book is beneficial for young people exploring their sexuality.

“My kids will not be hurt or scared by this book, but someone could be hurt by changing how it’s shelved or taking it out entirely,” said parent Ali Thomas.

Still, many demanded the library change its review process in the future.

“What we’re asking is not to censor, per se. People can still get the book at the library. It just doesn’t have to be out there open to kids,” Evelyn Nickel said.

The Pella City Council didn’t make a final decision about changing the library book review process. The council said it’ll look into the matter more deeply.

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