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Clovis Council Decides Against Letter Protesting ‘Sex Acts’ Books in Library

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"It's Perfectly Normal" is among the books objected to by some Clovis city councilmembers. (GV Wire Composite/David Rodriguez)
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After nearly three hours of debate, the Clovis City Council will not send an official letter to Fresno County critical of LGBT and sex ed books at the public library.

The council on Tuesday discussed sending a letter on behalf of Diane Pearce, Vong Mouanoutoua, and Drew Bessinger. The three had expressed concern about what they believe is age-inappropriate LGBT-themed books at the library.

On a 5-0 vote, the council decided to do nothing. Obviously, that doesn’t preclude councilmembers from writing letters on their own.

The proposed letter, written by City Manager John Holt, would have alerted county officials to books featuring “sex acts.”

Books Should Be in Adult Section, Councilmembers Say

One particular book that drew the concern of the three councilmembers was “It’s Perfectly Normal.”

It is a sex education book aimed at children written by Robie H. Harris and illustrated by Michael Emberley. The front of the book is labeled for 10 and up. Several copies remain in libraries throughout the Fresno County system.

Pictures of the book, shared by Pearce with GV Wire, show illustrations of couples engaged in sexual activity, and children exploring their bodies.

Harris is used to having her works challenged, according to a profile from the Freedom to Read Foundation. It has been on the American Library Association’s list of most challenged books.

“I don’t choose what to write to be controversial, I choose to write what children are thinking about or have questions or worries and want to know about. They have the right to have accurate and honest information,” Harris said in the story. “If it is in the best interest of children, then it goes in the book no matter what anyone says to me.”

Bessinger said the books should not be banned; instead, they should be in the adult section.

I don’t know that a fourth-grader would be mature enough without a parent with them to have that discussion,” Bessinger said.

Pearce, who brought the issue to light with a Facebook post last June, agreed with Bessinger.

“It’s just about what we believe and what we can do to make sure that the things that are in front of our kids are appropriate,” Pearce said.

Mayor Lynne Ashbeck called Clovis a “welcoming community,” disagreeing with the need for an official letter.

“I think we have caused incredible harm on all sides of the issue and it really was for no outcome,” Ashbeck said.

An image from the book “It’s Perfectly Normal.” Councilwoman Diane Pearce says it is “illustrated pornography.” (Special to GV Wire)

Most Public Comment Opposed Letter

Public comment was passionate from both supporters and opponents of free speech, LGBT rights, and parental rights. An unofficial count had a majority of speakers opposing the letter.

“We need to preserve the innocence of children,” one Clovis resident said, advocating for the books to be placed in the adult section.

Others accused Pearce of using “scare tactics” and “hateful” remarks about the LGBT community.

“You are demonizing and trying to hide the visibility of so many different types of people to keep an increasingly outdated status quo on what normal looks like,” one commenter said.

Several members of the public said parents should have the right to decide what their children read with some supporting the letter and others opposing.

After public comment, Bessinger said that sending an official letter may not be the course of action. However, he added that he would send an individual letter. Pearce said she didn’t have a problem with individual letters.

 

Curiosity drives David Taub. The award-winning journalist might be shy, but feels mighty with a recorder in his hand. He doesn't see it his job to "hold public officials accountable," but does see it to provide readers (and voters) the information needed to make intelligent choices. Taub has been honored with several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. He's just happy to have his stories read. Joining GV Wire in 2016, Taub covers politics, government and elections, mainly in the Fresno/Clovis area. He also writes columns about local eateries (Appetite for Fresno), pro wrestling (Off the Bottom Rope), and media (Media Man). Prior to joining the online news source, Taub worked as a radio producer for KMJ and PowerTalk 96.7 in Fresno. He also worked as an assignment editor for KCOY-TV in Santa Maria, California, and KSEE-TV in Fresno. He has also worked behind the scenes for several sports broadcasts, including the NCAA basketball tournament, and the Super Bowl. When not spending time with his family, Taub loves to officially score Fresno Grizzlies games. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Taub is a die-hard Giants and 49ers fan. He graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science. Go Blue! You can contact David at 559-492-4037 or at Send an Email

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