TOPEKA — The Oakley Public Library board voted unanimously Wednesday to keep a children’s book despite objections from a woman who called for it to be removed.
Janna Leitner tried to ban Peter Brown’s ‘Fred Gets Dressed’ from the public library after her two children, ages 9 and 11, discovered the book and brought it to their mother’s attention . Library staff told Kansas Reflector that the woman, identified in the meeting minutes, was troubled by what she considered LGBTQ content.
The book is about a boy who likes to “walk around the house naked, wild and free” and tries on his mother’s clothes. Brown, a best-selling children’s book author, is a straight, cisgender man who wrote the book about an experience he had when he was a little boy.
The library board heard Leitner’s concerns at a meeting on April 27. The minutes of this meeting refer to a discussion on whether the book is appropriate for children. The board decided “to defer the issue of censorship” until the May 25 board meeting, according to the minutes.
At Wednesday’s meeting, library director Victoria Halbleib was asked to provide a statement for the record, according to unofficial minutes obtained by Kansas Reflector.
“Banning a book is fundamentally wrong,” Halbleib said. “I am sorry that Mrs. Leitner and her children were disturbed by the contents of this book, however, the contents of any book have no power over us unless we open it and continue to watch it or continue to watch it. read. It is not intended to endorse or endorse the contents of this book or other materials in this library. It’s a censorship issue; it’s about the right of every customer who walks through the door to have the freedom to decide for themselves what they will read. Please do not censor and remove this book from our collection.
The council voted 6-0 not to withdraw the book, according to the minutes. The board also voted to order a plain hard copy of the book – the existing copy is a “wonderful book”, which includes the audio – and put it on the regular shelf, rather than put it on display.
Brown previously said it was the first known attempt to have her book banned.
“The woman who tries to ban ‘Fred Gets Dressed’ has the right to prevent her children from reading the book, but controlling what others can read? It’s downright un-American,” Brown said. “I think everyone needs to relax and let the kids be who they are going to be and let them read whatever they want to read. Everything will be alright. »