The issue of sexually explicit books being available to minors in Alabama libraries has taken center stage in the state's political landscape.
In April, 1819 News reported on several mothers expressing concern with LGBTQ+ and sexually explicit children's books in the Autauga-Prattville Public Library, available for any child to read at will.
The result was the formation of two groups opposed to the books, Clean Up Prattville and Clean Up Alabama. The former focuses on the Prattville library, while the latter addresses statewide library issues.
On Wednesday, Ivey responded to Alabama Public Library Service (APLS) director Nancy Pack's defense of the state's partnership with the American Library Association (ALA), expressing no abatement of her concerns and suggesting policy changes.
In September, Ivey sent a letter to Pack demanding answers in the growing controversy surrounding Alabama libraries and sexually explicit books and APLS's connection with the ALA.
Pack later responded to Ivey's letter, attempting to give answers to the questions, along with a self-authored defense of the ALA.
Among other things, Ivey recommended on Wednesday the following policy changes for APLS:
Make state aid for local libraries contingent on the adoption of sensible policies to facilitate greater parental supervision of their children.
Require all expenditures of public funds to the American Library Association to be approved by the relevant governing authority in an open, public meeting.
Reaffirm local libraries' ability to respond to parental concerns about sexually explicit or other inappropriate materials.
Hannah Rees with Clean Up Alabama promptly released a statement on the letter, applauding the points made in Ivey's response and saying the suggested policy changes don't go far enough.
"The letter made some really good points, but the proposed policy changes do not go far enough to ensure safe libraries for all children," Rees said. "APLS must require policies that do not allow minors access to any sexual content without parental consent. This is both sexually explicit content and content regarding sex, sexuality, and gender but isn't necessarily explicit. These are subjects that should only be discussed with children at the discretion of parents."
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