No action yet on removal of children’s sex book from public library

“This book is rotten to the core ... It’s so logically, blatantly pornographic,” said Ron, a resident of Milaca.

It's Perfectly Normal children's book (Robie Harris website)

A Minnesota public library still has done nothing about an “inappropriate” children’s sex book, according to concerned residents.

Last month, Alpha News reported on a book called “It’s Perfectly Normal” which features illustrations of people having sex, putting on condoms, masturbating, and other sexual activities. Community members came in force to demand the East Central Regional Library (ECRL) board pull the book off the shelves during a May board meeting. Currently, there are three copies within the ECRL system.

A screenshot of a page from “It’s Perfectly Normal.”

During last month’s meeting, board members decided to establish an ad hoc committee to look into the matter. The committee said it would provide recommendations to the board in August, but Alpha News was told the committee has “not even set up one meeting yet.”

Procedural guidelines disregarded

Apparently, board members did not follow instructions prior to establishing the ad hoc committee, therefore the committee cannot and will not meet unless protocol is restored.

According to procedural guidelines, for such a committee to be ordered, someone who has filed the “Request for Reconsideration of Library Materials” must then schedule a conference with Executive Director Carla Lyndon to discuss the material in question, which has been done by a woman named Nancy Grossmann.

The guidelines continue to say “The Executive Director will summarize such conferences, render a written decision within 15 days concerning the retention or removal of the material, and forward such decision to the patron.”

If the person is not satisfied with the executive director’s decision, that person must request to appear before the Board of Directors to present their concerns at a regularly scheduled meeting so an open discussion can take place.

Grossmann said Executive Director Lyndon did not explain this protocol to her when she met with Lyndon in April. Grossmann will ask to be entered into the agenda for the August meeting and get the book review back on track.

ECRL Board of Directors procedural guideline.
Banning vs. removing book

Despite the oversight, board members again heard requests to remove the book during their regular meeting on Monday. The hour long hearing included a total of 13 people who spoke; about half supported the removal of the book.

The hearing was not recorded, but Cambridge resident Gary Lantz provided Alpha News with a cellphone recording.

“I believe that the public outcry is starting to swell,” said Lantz. “My impression was that about 2/3 of those there were in support of removal of the book, but many of them too shy to speak.”

Lantz also said those in support of the children’s sex book began throwing out the loaded word “banning,” which is not what community members are asking the library to do. Instead residents are hoping the book gets “removed” or “pulled.”

Lantz referenced an article explaining the difference between “banning” and “pulling or removing.” In part, the article states that banning is “an act determined by a law, official decree, or some official.” It says that banning means the “action or forbidding the use of something, or refusal of allowing someone to go somewhere, do something, or participate in something.”

Pulling or removing the book is considered “free speech,” according to the article. Pulling “It’s Perfectly Normal” off the shelves of the library would not prevent the book from being obtained elsewhere. Just as the author of the book can publish what they want, readers also have the right to criticize and not support the book.

ECRL board meeting June 13, 2022. (Gary Lantz)
Public hearing

“The idea of banning books at all is frankly frightening,” one resident said during Monday’s ECRL meeting. “I’m offended that you would try to tell me that my children or my grandchildren or I should not have access to this book in a public library because it does not meet your standards.”

Trinity Lutheran Pastor Tim Bauer explained why the book is “essential” for children. Bauer prefaced his explanation with a story about his uncle who identified as a gay man after being married for many years. 

“I think that process of discovery made him a healthier person and made his family happier. I only know that he knew who he was. The opportunity for youth to find these things out, to read about these things, to explore these things as they are growing up is an opportunity we cannot deny them,” Bauer said.

At one point during the public hearing, a 14-year-old girl shared that the book is a resource parents can give their children if they are uncomfortable or afraid to have conversations regarding sex. 

As reported last month, not everyone agreed with the above statements. Lighthouse Fellowship Pastor John Bechtle shared a personal testimony to explain how the book could be a gateway to pornographic addiction in young men.

“There are connections to sex and spiritual health,” Bechtle said. “When the two are out of alignment, it creates disaster … I’m speaking from personal experience as a man. These images will be burnt into your children, your young men’s minds and they will not leave. So you must ask yourselves, if my child has access to that, is that an image that I’m willing to let my son wrestle with for the rest of his life?”

A screenshot of a page from “It’s Perfectly Normal.”

“This book is rotten to the core … It’s so logically, blatantly pornographic,” said Ron, a resident of Milaca. “[The book says] masturbation cannot hurt you …That’s just one page of a many paged book. I can tell you as a father, as a husband, masturbation will kill ya.”

Some residents say the book should not be removed from the library but instead moved to the adult section. 

“Knowing this [book] comes from Planned Parenthood, knowing the source also causes me to not trust it because I know Planned Parenthood, while it says it’s there to support children, it has been the cause of the death of millions of either babies or potential babies, however you want to look at it,” one mother said during the meeting. 

Author compares book to sexual abuse

According to a book review by Barbara Anderson, the content of “It’s Perfectly Normal” fits “the profile of a child molester’s strategy as defined by the FBI.”

Anderson said Michael Heimbach of the Criminal Investigative Division with the FBI testified before a U.S. Senate committee on May 1, 2002 that child molesters:

1. Demonstrate sex acts to children.
2. Lower the sexual inhibition of children by showing pictures of children engaging in sexual activities.
3. Desensitize children to sex.
4. Sexually arouse children.

“It’s Perfectly Normal uses all four of these strategies. It normalizes high-risk sex acts such as anal and oral sex, and grooms children for child abuse,” Anderson wrote.

The author of “It’s Perfectly Normal,” Robie Harris, was on Planned Parenthood’s national board of advocates. The book is promoted and distributed by Planned Parenthood.

In 2019, Republican legislators ignited an explosive debate on the House floor where Rep. Eric Lucero exposed the Planned Parenthood-endorsed book.

Alpha News reached out to the ECRL board but did not hear back.