A decision by the Glen Ridge Public Library director to keep six LGBTQ-themed children’s books on the shelves after a conservative group sought to remove them has drawn support from Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo.
“Having access to and reading an LGBTQ-themed book has the power to promote understanding and respect,” DiVincenzo said. “Recently, there have been far too many local episodes that are dividing our community. Let’s learn from our differences, overcome these obstacles and come together as one united Essex County.”
The Glen Ridge Library Board of Trustees is meeting tonight to consider the group’s appeal of Library Director Tina Marie Doody’s decision to reject a request first filed by eight residents on letterhead from an unregistered group, Citizens Defending Education, alleging that the material in the six books was inappropriate for the intended audiences.
The books being challenged were: All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johson; Here and Queer by Rowan Ellis and Jacky Sheridan; It’s Not the Stork and It’s Perfectly Normal, both by Robie H. Harris and Michael Emberley; This Book is Gay by James Dawson; and You Know, Sex by Cory Silverberg and Fiona Smith.
The libary directorresponded to the group two weeks later that “all of the titles meet the criteria of the Library Materials Selection Policy, and the titles will remain in the Library’s collection.”
Essex County Commissioner Brendan Gill was among the first elected officials to defend the position of the Glen Ridge Library.
“Few of our rights and freedoms capture the values of this country and ensure our democracy more than the freedom of speech and expression, and few institutions should embody those values more than government-funded public libraries,” he said. “That’s why the movement in Glen Ridge to ban books from the public library is so egregious, particularly when the subject of those books—gender identity and sexual orientation—speak directly to a person’s right and freedom to express who they are.”
Gill said the movement to ban certain books poses “a direct threat to the health and safety of our young people.”
“If you don’t believe that, consider this: According to a 2022 report from the Trevor Project, in the past year 40 percent of LGBTQ youth in New Jersey seriously considered suicide and 14 percent attempted it—yet the same research also shows that these statistics dramatically reverse themselves when LGBTQ youths feel accepted and supported by their families, communities and schools,” said Gill. “Our efforts should be directed at creating these communities of support and acceptance, not trying to silence viewpoints with which we don’t agree.”