US: West Chicago Public Library denies request to remove gay pride book

On a recent trip to the West Chicago Public Library, a 3-year-old girl found a children's book featuring illustrations of a gay pride parade and asked her mother what it was about.  The mother, Michaela Jaros, was surprised at the content of the book and thought it wasn't age-appropriate. She filed a complaint with the library, and her husband, Kurt Jaros, asked the library board if the material could be removed or moved out of the children's section.

Once the incident was reported on the website of the conservative Illinois Family Institute, "The whole thing blew up," Jaros said.

At a library board meeting to discuss the issue Monday night, a crowd packed the meeting room and spilled into the hallway. A library official said more than 150 people signed up to speak about the matter, and the vast majority supported keeping the book, "This Day in June" by Gayle E. Pitman.

After much debate, the board voted 6-1 to keep the book in the library's collection. "This was a very hot topic," said Maria Dalianis, a West Chicago resident and advocate for keeping the book as a show of tolerance and diversity. "Whatever is in the library, it's the parents' responsibility to monitor their children and decide what's right for them." she said.

Kurt Jaros said his wife would prefer to let her children discover books in the library on their own with her ultimate oversight. Jaros is executive director of Defenders Media, an alliance of evangelical ministries that advocates for a Christian worldview. He is also host of a conservative Christian podcast.

"At the very least, this book should be moved to the parental section," Jaros said. "I don't think we see other children's books showing these sorts of images."

The book includes drawings of same-sex couples embracing and holding hands, and Jaros said he believes the book is "ultimately about sexuality."

Library Director Benjamin Weseloh said the book is primarily made up of colorful drawings of a gay pride parade. At the back of the book is a parent's guide that explains terminology and ways to discuss the topic with children. "This is not sexual in any way," he said. "In my opinion, that's being read into it." Read more via Chicago Tribune

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