EDITOR’S NOTE: The following was written by Dr. Scott Crater, a Sanibel resident. The Santiva Chronicle publishes opinions and letters on topics that are important to Sanibel and Captiva. They may be submitted via email at email@example.com.
To the editor:
Recently books available to the public at the Sanibel library have come under attack. In particular, they are books that address gender identity and are geared toward kids. There are parents in the community who want them relocated.
Parents can and should look at the media their kids are consuming, whether they be books, tv, Snapchat, YouTube, movies, violent video games, TikToks, Instagrams, other apps, etc. Lots of great reviews of media are available on sites like Common Sense Media. We referred to the site often as we raised our three kids, now ages 20, 17, and 14. Look at the books your kids bring home, and if you have a problem with them, talk to your kids about why you feel they are inappropriate. Monitor your kids access to social media and online content. What they can find online is FAR more offensive that the books that have generated so much controversy here.
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of books in any library that parents may find offensive. For example, the Bible has numerous depictions of rape, incest, sodomy, and violent murders. In 2 Samuel, a young woman is raped by her half brother, and then he is killed. Also in 2 Samuel, Absalom is stabbed in the heart while hanging from a tree, and then further beaten until he is dead. In 2 Kings, Athaliah murders her children and grandchildren in order to become the queen. In 2 Samuel, an army captain is killed in his sleep by two of his own men. They cut off his head and carry it with them in their travels. They are later caught, and King David cuts off their hands and feet and hangs their dead bodies for public display. And the bloodbath goes on and on. Cain kills Abel of course. Jezebel is killed and her body eaten by dogs. Holofernes is decapitated. Sisera has a metal spike driven into his head. All these images are incredibly violent, gruesome, and disturbing, and inappropriate for young children.
And of course the Bible references sodomy and homosexuality, and it is from the book of Genesis that the word sodomy entered our English language. Sodom was a city in the ancient world. In Genesis 19, a mob wanted to “have sex” with two men who are guests of Lot. Lot offers up his two young daughters for them to have sex with instead. Later in the story, Lot himself becomes intoxicated after drinking wine supplied by his daughters, and he has sex with both his daughters and they become pregnant. Many people would find this material offensive and disturbing.
Should children be prohibited from picking up a Bible? Of course not. But as with any controversial material, context and guidance can and should be provided by parents.
As a the parent of a gay young adult, whom I love dearly, and of whom I am immensely proud, I can tell you that she didn’t “become gay” because of a book she read in the library. To paraphrase Lady Gaga, she was “born this way”. She is such a fantastic human being, so kind and caring. She’s the best and most fun babysitter for little kids. She taught piano to economically disadvantaged children at the Heights Foundation, sung hymns at church, and has participated in myriad acts of public service. She ranked second out of 325 kids in her high school class and received the Presidential Scholarship to the University of Florida, was invited to be in the Research Scholars Program, and received the Bright Futures Scholarship. And yes I am being an obnoxious proud dad, but we have to love and accept our youth for who they are—gay, straight, queer, trans, etc.
Removing books is a dangerous, slippery slope. Who gets to decide what books are appropriate or not? Again, I think each parent should be free to review and regulate what their own kids read. But taking away access to a book for all kids, when only some parents object to the material, is unfair.
When I was a kid, in the 70s and 80s, life was hard for kids who were gay, queer, or different from the mainstream. Kids were ostracized and ridiculed. There was a lot of emotional suffering among those kids. And I was oblivious to that suffering at the time. Today, the world has changed for the better. We have LGBTQ kids and adults contributing to the richness of our lives on Sanibel every day. They are all around you, even in this public meeting room. Let’s show them the kindness and encouragement they deserve.
Dr. Scott Crater