First a quick background info dump – feel free to skip down if you already know it-
In June, a Clovis City Council member (Diane Pearce) posted on FB with a photo of a Pride display at a Fresno library and the comment that people might want to wait until after June to take their kids to the library. When there was pushback in the comment section of her post, she doubled down on the fact that these types of books don’t belong in a public library.
Cue more pushback.
Eventually she, along with 2 other members of the Clovis City Council decided to write a letter to the Fresno County Board of Supervisors citing that there had been “numerous complaints” about “some books” in the Fresno library system.
Last night, the Clovis City Council was prepared to vote on if that letter should be sent in its current form (on official letterhead, with the seal, signed by 3 sitting members, no actual numbers regarding complaints, and no actual mention of which books were offensive or why.)
The letter got out and a bunch of people started pushing back again … because.. Well, the letter is silly.
During the pushback and conversations online (before the meeting) a few more facts came to light:
First off, Councilperson Diane decided to politically backtrack a tiny bit… she isn’t’ calling for a ban on books you see, she just thinks this one particular book shows pornography and therefore shouldn’t be in the children’s section.
Well, that sounds legit but the book in question is actually a sexual education text from the 90s. It has been part of the library system for decads. It is geared for ages 10 and up, and it is meant to be read with an adult. Again, it is an educational book. Also… the pictures in the book are cartoons. They are not graphic and in no way do they rise to the level of porn.
Also also, there is a system in place for when a citizen sees a book they think isn’t appropriate… there are forms that can be filed etc and then the professional librarians get to make that call. (Remember, no book just ends up in a library, there are professionals who decide that it has merit.)
So last night the Clovis City Council met to determine if the letter should be sent or not.
The meeting lasted over 3 hours and almost 50 people provided public comment. The vast majority of those who spoke laid out facts, called out the hypocrisy of starting this whole thing because of a Pride display but now trying to backtrack into this strawman porn argument, pointed out that kids in the library are supposed to be supervised by adults, pointed out that the government shouldn’t be telling parents how to parent, gave the actual definition of porn, reminded the council that 5th grade is a totally legit age to learn about sex, pointed out that the book in question gives advice on how to deal with abuse, talked about how removing content is pretty darn close to banning books, asked what the point of the letter would be if not to remove (ban) the book, discussed the importance of representation and education to all demographics especially the LGBTQ community, on and on and on. And of course there were a handful of letter sending / book removal supporters… a few that were a bit out of touch with reality (one world government, big Pharma, evil vaccines, etc).
Ultimately, it was decided that the letter in its current form would NOT be sent to the Board of Supervisors. It was also stated that the council members can write to the BOS using city council letterhead to air their personal grievances etc. This, by the way, was a right and privilege that they already had.
So… is it a win? Sort of, yes. In fact, I would say more yes than no.
First off, the letter isn’t being sent. Secondly, the fact that so many people showed up to speak in favor of lgbt people and comprehensive sex education, (in Clovis of all places) is a really optimistic sign.Thirdly, one of the council members did go and look at the books. Now, he thinks that the main book in question ought to be in the adult section, but he did go and do some of his own research, and that is a decent starting place. Fourth, some of these council members are going to be running again in the not too distant future and this sort of thing can get people to the polls.
Next steps: We might not be city council members… but all us private citizens can do something helpful. Here are a few options:
One, you can write a letter or email to the BOS: “Hi, I live in Fresno County and I am glad to see Pride displays at my local libraries. I am also in favor of sex ed books being available to families The end.”
Two. You can write or email or call your local library or the entire library system “Hi, I live in Fresno County and I just wanted to thank you for having Pride displays and sex education materials available at your branches. Thanks! The end”
Three. If you don’t have a library card, go get one. It’s free! .
Four, If you live in Clovis, make sure you vote these clowns out of office.
This endeth the sum-up.