FAIRHOPE — The day after the Alabama Public Library Service (APLS) voted on a measure concerning inappropriate books in children and teen sections of libraries, board member John Wahl spoke in Fairhope about what he heard.

Wahl, who also serves as the Alabama Republican Party chairman, spoke at the Eastern Shore Republican Women's luncheon at the Fairhope Yacht Club.

When discussing the APLS meeting, Wahl said hearing some of the material gave him more insight into how inappropriate some books are.

"I'm going to be honest with you guys," he said. "I knew it was bad. I did not realize just how disturbing the content was."

"[I]f we have material that is so disturbing we can't read it in a public forum, why is it in the children's section of our libraries?" Wahl asked.

After hearing the material during the APLS meeting Wednesday, Wahl introduced a policy to create a list of books that have come into question and may contain sexually explicit material. The board approved the policy unanimously.

Wahl said the new list is a good first step, adding adults must protect children.

"Libraries should be a safe place for children," said Wahl. "Parents should not have to worry about what an innocent child might stumble on in a library. I also want to address this idea that we're banning books. You know, I talked about earlier how I believe in the First Amendment, and you will not find someone who is a stronger advocate of the constitutional First Amendment rights for freedom of speech. But let's get one thing straight. We are not talking about banning anything. We're talking about what is appropriate. Is the use of taxpayer funding to buy books that contain sexually explicit content for children appropriate? And I believe the answer is no."

Wahl blamed the left for banning and censoring, using social media apps, the treatment of Laura Ingalls Wilder and Dr. Seuss books as examples.

"So, let's be honest," he said. "Conservatives are not the advocate of censorship. It is the left. And I will not be boxed into a false narrative of them putting us into the box that they actually belong in. So, we're going to be bold about that and we're going to be clear about that."

To connect with the author of this story or to comment, email erica.thomas@1819news.com.

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