Casper Notebook: Library Books and the Streisand Effect | caspar

First, parents came to Gillette complaining about books that supposedly corrupted their children. Then the concerns were brought to the attention of schools in Laramie County.

In December, I covered my first school board meeting, watching a group of parents talk about a handful of books available at Natrona County school libraries. They covered inappropriate topics, they said – including homosexuality, sex, trafficking, poverty, race and more.

My first thought was: this is free publicity. They make the library quite interesting!

On Monday, a few more concerned parents came to the school board meeting to voice the same concerns. But there were many more people there to keep the books on the shelves, many of them students who said these books and others helped them understand their own feelings or prepared them for the “real world” beyond the walls of the classroom. .

There were also a number of supportive parents, one of whom said she was glad the library had resources to educate her children about things they didn’t want to bring her. One student said he was drawn to the library because of the diversity of its books. Another transgender graduate said that reading one of the books in question, ‘Gender Queer’ by Maia Kobabe, “was the first time she had seen her feelings represented. A school library is one of the most sure to learn something new, no matter how unsettling.

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Natrona County parents join national outcry over books

It was a classic case of the Streisand effect, named after a famous incident in which Barbra accidentally drew more attention to a photo of her house than she would have drawn without her drawing it. dispute. All of this discussion about these books, which give representation to transgender people, deal with difficult representations of abuse and power, and offer perspectives far beyond Natrona County, has only made more people aware that these books are available. It also resulted in several news articles, statewide editorials, and this column here.

And, as one parent said, in the age of the Internet, shouldn’t we celebrate children who search for books?

I will say from personal experience – and I like to think that I was a particularly bookish child, who really enjoyed going to the library at school – being exposed to stories of abuse, gender identity or extreme poverty has only made me a more compassionate person.

For the most part, children are smart enough to treat material with a critical eye; know that not everything described in a book is endorsed by the author. The best and most lasting stories tackle tough topics and stay with you long after an assignment is due.

Laramie community reacts to statewide controversy over LGBTQ books and sex

What do you think of the book debate? Are there any books you read as a child that stood out to you or that you would recommend to local students? Let me know at [email protected] or (307) 266-0544.

Follow city and crime reporter Ellen Gerst on Twitter at @ellengerst.

Follow city and crime reporter Ellen Gerst on Twitter at @ellengerst.

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