Topeka Board Restricts Sex-Themed Titles

American Libraries, April 2009 | Go to article overview

Topeka Board Restricts Sex-Themed Titles


The Topeka and Shawnee County (Kans.) Public Library board voted 5-3 February 19 to restrict minors' access to four books about sex, although the trustees failed to specify just what that restriction would entail.

The titles challenged by complainant Kim Borchers in November 2008 are The Joy of Sex, The Lesbian Kama Sutra, The Joy of Gay Sex, and Sex for Busy People: The Art of the Quickie for Lovers on the Go, the Topeka Capital-Journal reported February 20. Borchers, who represents a group called Kansans for Common Sense, had contended in her statement of concern that the materials were harmful to minors under state law.

In a February 13 memo to the board, library Executive Director Gina Millsap reminded trustees that the TSCPL collection contained more than 600 books "with subject headings relating to sex, sex instruction, sexual behavior, fertility, etc." and went on to ask, "Will staff be expected to review all of these titles and assign some or all of them to a restricted collection?"

Of the 16 people who weighed in on the challenged titles at the three-hour meeting, 14 were against restricting them. Following the vote, the board's chair, Kerry Onstott Storey expressed surprise at the outcome. "I am extremely disappointed in the board," she said. "I am stunned as chairwoman." After the meeting, Onstott Storey, noted that several of the trustees who supported the restriction attend Topeka Bible Church, as does Borchers.

Topeka lawyer Pedro Irigonegaray, who attended the meeting, told the Capital-Journal he had already been approached by residents interested in initiating a lawsuit to overturn the board's decision. …

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