Gender Queer may be in the adult section, but any youngster can take it home
Harrison Thorp 7:20 a.m. ONLY IN THE VOICE
ROCHESTER - In a press release from the city last week clearly intended to stifle dissent over the library's acquisition of Gender Queer, a novel that includes images of children having oral sex, the chief librarian insisted the book is intended for adults and placed in the adult section of the library.
But on Tuesday she admitted anyone of any age can check it out and take it home.
"Anyone can go anywhere (in the library) and look at any book," Rochester Public Library Director Marie Lejeune told The Rochester Voice. "Anyone can take out Gender Queer."
Gender Queer: A Memoir, by Maia Kotabe, recounts Kobabe's journey from adolescence to adulthood and the author's exploration of gender identity and sexuality, ultimately identifying as being outside of the gender binary, according to Wikipedia..
Gender Queer is among the graphic novel genre, which is especially popular among young people. The genre includes a comic book look, Lejeune said.
Some of the more offensive images in Gender Queer include what appears to be two youngsters engaging in oral sex, but there are also other images of sex acts in the book, which has been banned in many libraries nationwide.
Lejeune defended the library's inclusion on its shelves and said it's not the job of library staff to police who looks at what.
"I recommend that parents be involved in their children's borrowing," she said. "That is the job of the parent. Parents need to be involved in what their children borrow from the library.
However, Lejeune confirmed that anyone can check the book out, no matter how young they appear when they present the book at the main desk.
"Could they be under the age of 12?" The Rochester Voice asked.
"Yes," replied Lejeune who cited the principle of loco parentis, a Latin term that refers to the legal responsibility of a person or organization to perform some of the functions or responsibilities of a parent.
"We are not loco parentis," she said repeatedly.
Given that, she said libraries and librarians have no right to infringe on who can take what out of the library, no matter their age.
The controversy over Gender Queer began when City Councilor Jim Gray requested an agenda item be placed on the Sept. 6 City Council meeting to discuss the appropriateness of the widely criticized book.
Gray's request for City Manager Blaine Cox to discuss his findings on the book's appropriateness after conferring with Lejeune were rebuffed after City Council voted 12-1 to scuttle Gray's agenda item, with only Gray voting against.
The vote, which followed a 23-minute secret meeting, employed Robert's Rules of Order verbiage to eliminate any discussion.
"So we ended up not getting the report from the city manager," lamented Gray soon after the vote., "which was what I wanted."
It should be noted that Gender Queer is not in any Rochester School libraries, according to Rochester Schools Supt. Kyle Repucci.
One section of the City Charter that seeks to regulate murals says they can be approved as long as:
Gray feels that the City Council is, in fact, a legitimate body to weigh in on this subject, since they hold the purse strings to the library and appoint library trustees.