By Dennis Minich
The Cass County Public Library Board voted last week to side with its staff in keeping “It’s Perfectly Normal,” a children’s sex-education book in the juvenile section of the library’s branches, despite numerous objections by patrons during the past thee months. While the vote to leave the book alone settles the matter for now, the issue may be far from over.
Monday afternoon, all three Cass County Commissioners expressed disappointment with the library board’s decision.
“I don’t think it’s a surprise,” Associate Commissioner Ryan Johnson said, “But I am disappointed.”
Presiding Commissioner Bob Huston said he is sure there will be angry residents wanting to be heard.
“It’s going to escalate,” he said.
Associate Commissioner Monte Kisner said the whole thing started with an email sent to Huston.
“None of us had ever heard of the book before,” Kisner said. “Ryan and I went over to the library and we were shown where the book was on a low shelf and we opened it up and it was like whoa. It was graphic.”
The commissioners met with three staff members from the library and requested the book be moved.
“No one ever said anything about removing the book, simply moving it,” Kisner said.
Johnson said he disagreed with the library staff’s main argument.
“They talk a lot about intellectual freedom, but none of us have ever given intellectual freedom to children. We as adults determine what is age-appropriate information. That’s how schools work, to teach children what is appropriate for their age level.
“I have no desire to ban the book, but I do think it should be in an area where it can’t be accidentally picked up,” Johnson said.
Kisner said despite public outcries, there is nothing the commission can do right now.
“We’ve discussed it with our attorney. We can’t reverse the decision and we can’t remove anyone from the board. But one of the seats opens up in June and two more in June of 2022,” Kisner said.
Johnson added, “The taxpayers sported them last year when they wanted a tax increase, but I kind of question that now.”
He concluded, “Just because people are on the board now doesn’t mean their appointment will roll over the next time they are up. We asked for applications last year of people interested in serving on various boards and we had a lot of very good people respond.”