Marion County bans certain books for young adults

Board removes dozen titles from Columbia-Marion County Library
Published: Sep. 22, 2023 at 8:28 PM CDT

COLUMBIA, Miss. (WDAM) -Residents of Columbia can expect to see about a dozen young adult books disappear from the shelves of the Columbia-Marion County Library.

Last month, some parents and community members had questions about the sexual content found in some of the books and the availability for them to be checked out of the library by minors.

“Do you really think that a 16- or 17-year-old needs to be reading that?” asked Dave Nichols, East Columbia Baptist Church pastor, during a passionate discussion Friday inside the Columbia-Marion County Library.

Last month, a group of neighbors met with the library’s board of trustees about the content found in one of the novels in the “Heartstopper” series.

From that meeting, the group requested several other titles available at the library be reviewed by supervisors.

“This is an attempt to restrict access to certain books by the minor children in Columbia, Mississippi,” Columbia resident Brian Stewart said.

The board agreed, and on Friday, folks learned that 12 young adult titles would be removed.

“We understand the country we live in, and people have a right to read what they want to read,” said Nichols, who supported the board’s decision. “However, there is age appropriateness.”

Nichols, who attended the August meeting, offered an example on Friday of how easily he said a 15-year-old accessed one of the books under fire.

“So she got her card, went to the adult section, and checked out this book that was graphically, very graphically,” Nichols said. “I’m not going to repeat on air what it said, but she was able to check (the book) out and take it home.”

Most of the room at Friday’s gathering appeared to agree with the board’s decision to ban 12 books in Columbia.

But some held a different perspective.

“This significantly affects my life as a lesbian living in Mississippi,” said Emily Escolas, an advocate for LGBTQ rights.

Escolas said she agreed that there needed to be a sorting system in place

“Just looking at what we’re putting in front of our youth, we need to pay attention to that,” she said.

But, she said that when it comes to some of the young adult content, people should keep an open mind.

“We do have to be very careful not to recreate the history that we’ve survived barely,” Escolas said. “We must have balance in our government and our decisions in representation of all people.”

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