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Vol. III, xvii March 5, 2009 , item 6
Meanwhile, Back in West Bend: On Tuesday March 3, our far-flung reporter tried to attend a meeting of the board for the West Bend Community Memorial Library in West Bend, WI, a town of about 30,000 residents approximately 40 miles northwest of Milwaukee. On the agenda for the Tuesday meeting was a complaint from two West Bend residents about books for youth addressing homosexuality:
We find the books for youth on homosexuality to be biased, gay-affirming, promotional and romanticized. We believe our library should be offering appropriate, wholesome literature to our youth instead of pursuing the illegitimate goals of transforming the views of other people's children on the contentious issue of homosexuality.
More information about the complaint is available from blog postings.
The complaint asks that the library provide access to "faith-based" books and books that "oppose a pro-homosexual ideology." It also asks that the library either remove or restrict access to a web page that lists books about LGBT topics for youth. In addition, there are objections to specific books as pornographic.
Interest in the library discussion was high and the board meeting was moved to the West Bend City Hall, a larger venue. Apparently word had also spread that the meeting might be newsworthy, and Milwaukee news media were heavily represented. After some delays and a head count by local police, it was determined that the crowd that had gathered was larger than the 265-person capacity of the city hall chambers. The meeting was canceled and everyone sent home.
There is no word yet on a new date for the meeting. Perhaps there's still time for West Bend to borrow San Francisco's jumbotron.
Be Still and Know: Most Holy Redeemer ("Your Catholic parish in the Castro") was set to host a production of the play Be Still and Know by the theater group from Sacred Heart Preparatory School in Atherton. The production originated at Sacred Heart Prep where it was performed January 30-31 and February 6-7. The performance at Most Holy Redeemer was scheduled for Sunday March 8 at 2PM.
Be Still and Know is a stage adaptation of the 2007 Alex Sanchez novel The God Box. Both works explore homosexuality in an adolescent, Christian context. Amazon describes the Sanchez book:
High school senior Paul has dated Angie since middle school... But when Manuel transfers to their school, Paul has to rethink his life. Manuel is the first openly gay teen anyone in their small town has ever met, and yet he says he's also a committed Christian. Talking to Manuel makes Paul reconsider thoughts he has kept hidden, and listening to Manuel's interpretation of Biblical passages on homosexuality causes Paul to reevaluate everything he believed.
On Tuesday March 3, Archbishop George Niederauer cancelled the performance (or according to some sources, requested that Most Holy Redeemer cancel the performance). No explanation was given for the abrupt cancellation.
On Wednesday, March 11, Matier and Ross writing for the San Francisco Chronicle reported that the play did indeed go on: it was performed on March 8 about 1.3 miles away from Most Holy Redeemer at the Presentation Theater of the Jesuit-run University of San Francisco.
All this came to us in email with the subject:
[W]hy I am proud to be the product of Jesuit education...
Our readers in West Bend, Wisconsin will note that the West Bend Community Memorial Library has one copy of The God Box, but it is checked out as of this writing.
West Bend Saga Continues: The on-going dispute over gay-themed books in the West Bend Community Memorial Library remains unresolved. On Feb. 12 Ginny and Jim Maziarka filed a complaint objecting to the "out of the closet" books in the library's young adult section. The complaint would ordinarily have been heard at the regular meeting of the library board, but publicity in advance of the meeting prompted a turnout larger than the meeting hall's capacity. Local police cancelled the meeting and it has not been rescheduled.
The West Bend Daily News reports that after consulting with City Attorney Mary Schanning, LIbrary Director Michael Tyree asked the Maziarkas to restate their complaint. The original complaint addressed the entire "out of the closet" category. Subsequent public statements by the Maziarkas indicated that they objected only to certain books, but not the entire category.
According to the Daily News the Maziarkas are re-iterating their original complaint. Ginny Maziarka is reported to have said:
They know what is in these books and they know they will be shamed by any pubic airing of it.
And in West Bend: The latest installment in the on-going saga of the West Bend Community Memorial Library unfolded on Tuesday, June 2. According to a report in the West Bend Daily News, the West Bend Library Board heard comments from some approximately 60 speakers and then voted unanimously not to remove, relocate, label or otherwise restrict access to books in the library's young adult section.The vote was a rejection of a proposal from West Bend Citizens for Safe Libraries (WBCSL) which since February has waged a campaign to move books with sexually-explicit passages from the young adult section to the adult section and to label those books as containing sexual material.
WBCSL leader Ginny Maziarka accused the library board of following the master plans of the American Library Association and the American Civil Liberties Union. The West Bend Daily News quotes Ms. Maziarka:
We vehemently reject their standards and their principles. This is a propaganda battle to maintain access to inappropriate material.