The rumble of fascist-esque book banning around the country has made a quiver in the cracks of Fairfield over the course of recent weeks. Town members vocalized their concerns over the book, Let’s Talk About It: The Teen’s Guide to Sex, Relationships, and Being a Human by Erika Moen and Matthew Nolan in the teen section of the public library. 

The graphic novel intends to be an informative guide for teenagers as they transition from  childhood to adulthood. The book touches upon several mature topics such as: anatomy, sexual orientation, dating, intimacy, sex, trust building, anxiety and relationships. 

The book is broken up into chapters based on the topics it covers, and is organized in a narrative style with character dialogue surrounding personal challenges, questions and concerns. 

Many may be wondering, where is the problem? The issue for many parents, as evident from a town hall meeting held on September 19, was the nature of the cartoons in the graphic novel. The most widely cited concern was just how graphic it was.

Upon a quick glance at the contested novel, I can attest that the depictions are very graphic. Genitalia is presented in great detail, nude body forms are illustrated, and mature concepts surrounding intimacy are illustrated and described. Some parents have gone as far to say the book is “pornographic.” 

It has a shock value, there is no point in denying that. Does the book, however, deserve to be taken off the shelves of the public library? I would argue, no. 

This book is exactly what it’s meant to be, a book. It’s meant as an educational resource for teenagers who may not have avenues to turn to, but nonetheless have many questions about this aspect of life. The book presents very real scenarios and situations that young adults may find themselves in. It offers resources, advice, and further reading.

The ending chapters were especially helpful, as they touch upon relationships, rejection, anxiety, hurt feelings, offering advice on managing those emotions and moving forward.

A lot of people seem to want to throw away the baby with the bath water. This points to a larger sociological pattern where individuals who are offended by something find hiding from the source is the easiest thing to do. That is no way to grow as a person and no way to learn from others. 

The book should be kept in the teens section, however, I would agree with some statements from the town hall remarking that it should be labeled as “graphic,” or as containing “mature content.” 

The book is graphic, yes. But, if you can get past that, there is nothing that’s inherently wrong with it. Parents have to be aware that their children will be curious and that books they may not agree with will be present on shelves. If this is a concern, parents can browse with their children and select texts they feel are appropriate. 

At the end of the day, this matter is one that falls on parents. Libraries house information; parents specialize the pace and style of their children’s learning. The latter responsibility ought not become the former. 

While a warning for mature content may be necessary, eliminating the book altogether is not a rational solution to parental concerns. The library is meant as a space for growth, where taboos and stigmas can be expressed and challenged through reading and writing. Accordingly, there should be no expectation of censorship within it. 

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