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LETTER: Books in the children’s section; sexualization and grooming

Updated April 13, 2023 - 10:36 am

Editor’s note:This complaint was originally emailed to Pahrump library trustee John Shewalter on Sept. 27, 2022.

It is being reprinted here unedited after library trustees voted 5-0 Monday to craft a review system of “questionable” materials in the youth library that’s likely to include a number of LGBTQ-affirming titles. The writer of the complaint is unknown. Trustees redacted the name and email address of its sender before circulating a printed copy of the complaint at a public meeting this week.

Mr. Shewalter:

I felt compelled to send this email after noticing a couple of book titles prominently displayed in the youth book section of the Pahrump Community Library; “Too Bright to See” and “Alice Austen Lived Here”. Reading the inserts and “accolades” provided in these books I could see the subject matter was problematic. When I got home, I looked at the titles the Pahrump Library offered on the LGBTQ+ subject to the children of Pahrump and I was disturbed to find that there are several titles, some of them available to children as young as K-4. I am hoping my email sparks a conversation and perhaps some safeguarding standards for what children are being exposed to under the guise of regular LGBT education in our small town.

I personally know several people of the LGBT community and I have no issues with their life choices. My main concern is for the innocence of children and what they are being exposed to in the pursuit of acceptance and equality. In my opinion, the goal is the eventual acceptance of pedophilia as a sexual orientation. I know this is a very sensitive subject and I thank you for taking the time to read my email. I realize raising these issues is often perceived as homophobic which I reject completely.

Equating these very genuine concerns regarding the sexualization of children and homosexuality is in my view very damaging. One of the books listed in the young adult section of our library is “Beyond Magenta” by Susan Kuklin, it describes a sex act by a six-year-old. The book also includes one teenager’s sexual experiences, and there is no immediate clarification for young readers that this sex act is illegal and damaging behavior. “Beyond Magenta” normalizes abuse and even pedophilia. In my view this book should only be given to a child with parental guidance if at all, to be honest. It is pornography no matter how “gently” it’s introduced. I’m certain many parents would be quite upset if they knew the library was letting children borrow and read this book and others like it, thinking it must have been reviewed and approved by the taxpayer-funded library and more directly, the new library director, Vanja Anderson whom, I might add, just received a hefty pay raise for this position.

If books containing these subject matters are allowed in our local library, at the very least, they should require parental consent upon checkout. I personally do not think they should be allowed at all, as they really boil down to containing pornography and kink that children should not be exposed to. We will not tolerate the normalization of the sexualizing of our underaged children. These are conversations that should be had within the walls of their homes, not in libraries nor schools.

The new library director, Vanja Anderson, who was hired from out of state is obviously unaware that Pahrump and our community members are far more conservative-leaning than she seems to be. Vanja Anderson has been in the official position of library director for several months now, therefore she should be fully aware that these types of books are currently on display at the Pahrump Community Library within the children’s section.

If Vanja Anderson in fact alleges that she was “unaware” that these children’s sexual grooming books are currently on display for the children of our community to read and check out then she is negligent and should be terminated immediately for allowing the sexual grooming of the children in our community and not doing her job as the library director.

Furthermore, if Vanja Anderson IS aware of these book titles being available at the Pahrump Community Library, which is more likely than not, I believe Vanja Anderson is still within her probationary period of employment and I am officially requesting that the Library Board terminate Vanja Anderson from her position of library director effective immediately and that the Library Board seek out a new person to fill the position of library director who holds the same moral and ethical standards as the very community that the library serves.

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