GLEN RIDGE, NJ – The town’s library board has voted to keep all 6 books in circulation that a group had asked to be banned.
Hundreds packed into the auditorium of the Ridgewood Avenue Elementary School Wednesday evening, where an open meeting was held prior to the board’s vote.
Allison Sabatini attended the meeting with her children. “The books and the children need to be protected and children who are different need to know they’re ok,” said Sabatini.
Over 100 members of the community signed up to speak. One after one, they passionately made their plea. That plea – hands off our books.
A group calling themselves “Citizens Defending Education” (CDE) submitted a petition last fall to remove 6 books from the shelves of Glen Ridge Public Library:
“All Boys Aren’t Blue” by George M. Johnson
“Here and Queer” by Rowan Ellis
“This Book is Gay” by Juno Dawson
“It’s Not the Stork” by Robie H. Harris
“You Know, Sex” Cory Silverberg
“It’s Perfectly Normal” by Robie H. Harris
Some of the books are written by LGBTQ authors. While the group was not present at the meeting, on their website they state in part, the books are inappropriate for minors for their sexually explicit content. The library director, Tina Marie Doody, reviewed the petition and made the decision to keep them on the shelves.
“We have a process that we follow for that,” said Doody. “I reviewed their requests, I submitted my decision to them which was that I felt that the materials did meet our material selection policy and would remain in the library.”
CDE appealed and the library board met to hear from the community. The loudest standing ovation was for the family of George Johnson, the author of “All Boys Aren’t Blue,” one of the books on the list. It’s a memoir about growing up gay.
“He’s just telling his story to help other people to help other children to help some parents,” said Kaye Johnson, “ George’s mother.
“Glen Ridge United Against Book Bans” formed to voice their opposition.
“Banning books, especially these books endangers our children it erases their reputation in the community and the library,” said Phil Johnson, a member of the group.
While there’s been a growing movement to censor books in other parts of the country, residents here are stunned it’s happening in their hometown,
“Our community stepped up to say this is not the type of community we want to live in,” said Glen Ridge resident Sushma Dwivedi. “We encourage discourse and we don’t want to ban books.”
The board also voted to keep the books in their current sections within the library.