The library worker wrote to the Irish Independent in response to an article written by columnist Declan Lynch, who had claimed that “far-right protests against books” were taking place, and that library protests reflected the view of a “belligerent rabble”.
“After reading Declan Lynch’s radio review (‘When Official Ireland was a far-right rabble’, August 6) I felt compelled to write to you,” the librarian wrote to the paper.
Last week the Irish Education Alliance said that parents had begun to approach libraries after it had come to their attention that books aimed at teens as young as 12 years contained explicit instructions on ‘fisting’ and ‘blow jobs’, and on the use of adult dating apps such as Grindr.
At least one book, ‘Trans Teen Survival Guide’ by Owl Fisher – which is aimed at teens – promoted the use of puberty blockers, a medical treatment which critics say was often offered hastily to teenagers and which has been withdrawn from use in the UK in almost all settings where gender dysphoria in teenagers is being treated under the NHS.
Another book by Juno Dawson, entitled ‘This Book is Gay’, includes advice like “as with handjobs and breakfast eggs, all men like their blow jobs served in different ways” as well as the instructions regarding oral sex referred to in the librarian’s letter.
While the instructions are explicit, the language is often pitched towards a young audience, with lots of headings like ‘Handsies’ and “Bummies”, and “Sexyfuntimes”.
The books have been placed in the section of the library for readers aged 12-17 years – and have been pictured placed on promotional displays in libraries.
However, the librarian revealed that trained staff did not choose the books – and that libraries were ordered to display them by a state body, the Local Government Management Agency.
The LGMA says it is a state agency which serves to “meet the needs of Local Authorities and the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (DHPLG) in delivering on the public sector reform agenda in the local government sector (particularly in terms of sectoral approaches to service delivery), researching emerging and identified issues, assisting Local Authorities in the implementation and measurement of change, and supporting, in general, enhanced performance by the local government sector.
“In correspondence to teacher Lynda Kennedy of the Irish Education Alliance, Fingal County Council said that “one of the actions set out under the Government’s National LGBTI+ Inclusion Strategy 2019-2021 is for public libraries to compile an LGBTI+ reading list and update it on an ongoing basis.
“A working group with representation from BeLonG To, HSE Sexual Health and Crisis Prevention, Irish National Teachers’ Organisation LGBT+ Group, public libraries and Transgender Equality Network Ireland was brought together by the LGMA to develop this reading list.
They said that the titles that referenced by Ms. Kennedy [This Book is Gay, Whats the T and Trans Teen Survival Guide] are included in this list and are available in libraries in Fingal in the Young Adult (12 – 17 years) section as part of the Healthy Ireland at Your Library collection.
However, they said, most libraries continued to display the books in the section for 12-17 year olds.
Ms Kennedy said that much of the media reporting around the libraries row sought to downplay the content of the books, and gave a false impression that protests are aimed at banning books or censoring LGBT books, when the objective is simply to remove them from the children’s section.
“The content of these books is quite pornographic and extremely sexually explicit. It’s got nothing to do with the LGBTQ community, it’s to do with the content of the books,” she said.
The LGMA has been contacted for comment.