Parents outside of Kansas City have been protesting Cass County Public Library Board of Trustees meetings for two months in the hopes of banning a children’s book about puberty from the library, KKTV reported yesterday. One protestor held a sign that claimed the book is “cartoon porn creating prey for child predators.”
The book, It’s Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, Gender, and Sexual Health by Robie Harris, has been in the library since 1998. Intended for children, It’s Perfectly Normal explains the reproductive system, puberty, sex, pregnancy and birth, as well as the serious decision-making that goes into choices around sexual acts and having children, including factors like consent and STIs. (The 2014 anniversary edition includes new sections about sexual orientation and online safety.) Harris says on her website the book “includes the most up-to-date information that today’s kids and teens need to have to make responsible decisions about sexual health.”
The “pornographic” drawings are drawings of naked bodies in a chapter called “Our Bodies,” which teaches children about the parts of their bodies and the reproductive system. Protestor John Webb was also concerned by the “definitions and instructions on all types of different sexual behaviors,” which seems to refer to the section on how babies are conceived, as well as the section which defines sex. “Sexual education is not a child’s world,” said protestor Connie Kidd, exemplifying the problem.
Banning books is a censorship issue. But in this particular case: children’s bodies begin to change as early as 7 or 8. Children have bodies and they see their own naked bodies; they develop sexual curiosity; so teaching tools that allow them to understand and feel comfortable in their bodies, as well as make responsible decisions, are critical rather than harmful. Preventing minors from learning about bodies and sex will not stop them from thinking about their bodies or having sex; it will only stop them from being able to make informed decisions. Attempting to ban a book that tells children their bodies are normal already implies the consequences.