A father in Bentonville, Arkansas, wants the city to pay him $20,000 after his two teenage sons stumbled onto a copy of Felice Newman‘s The Whole Lesbian Sex Book and “looked at the book while the 14-year-old was browsing for material on military academies.” As the father told Bentonville’s mayor, “My sons were greatly disturbed by viewing this material and this matter has caused many sleepless nights in our house.” Anything I add would be superfluous, really.
The library’s advisory board has voted to “remove the book from circulation and find a similar resource book, if possible”—hoping to find what one board member describes as “a more sensitive, more clinical approach to the same material.” The Guide to Lesbian Sex, perhaps? Lesbian Sex 101? The Lesbian Kama Sutra? The Straight Girl’s Guide to Sleeping with Chicks? Between you and me, I think the library board is settling in for a prolonged research period. Expect many sleepless nights in their houses!
So what does Newman have to say for all the sleepless nights she’s caused? “Boys have been poring over sexually explicit materials in libraries since—well, since there have been libraries,” she says. “Why was a copy of my book in the military section? Well, sometimes young people browsing the library shelves will tuck away a favorite book where they can find it later. These two young guys are the very reason libraries must be uncensored, and librarians must be free to order the books they feel will benefit the public.”