LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Parents Can Provide Guidance In Reading Material

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 news@santivachronicle.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

Comments (21)

  1. Thank you for putting into words what so many of us are feeling Dr. Crater. Communicating and being involved with our children’s lives is key, always.

  2. James Flannery

    If the biblical texts you mentioned could be found in the children’s section, ages 6-8, then your point would be valid, but they are not. The texts you use as examples are found only in adult sections of the library, intended for readers who have matured enough to discern the critical meaning of that material. If you can make an argument that children ages 6-8 have the maturity to evaluate human sexuality then make it. Otherwise your statement is just misdirection.

  3. I would like to offer some clarity to Councilman Crater. It seems that the issue has been manipulated and misunderstood. No one is requesting that any book is banned. The parents requested that the books be placed in a genre of Parenting in the adult section as they felt the content was not appropriate for 5-8 year olds. Councilman Crater mentioned stories in the Bible (where context is very important) but did not mention that that book is segregated in the religious genre – which is where it should be. If I had a 5-8 year old (or even older) child who stated they wanted to read the Bible – I would require that we read and discuss it together. That is what the parents are requesting. No one is judging the gay/trans community and it seems that those who support having these books in the children’s section – feel the need to offer anecdotal information and frankly – sanctimonious diatribe regarding their feelings. Again – this has nothing to do with the issue of putting books in an appropriate space. Transsexual books in a children’s section of the library, drag Queen story hours, pride parades with nude participants in front of children, and taking children to drag Queen night clubs is indicative of an agenda to indoctrinate children. Division, changing the culture, and diminishing the nuclear family are political goals. The new president-elect of the American Library Association is Emily Drabinski. She is a lesbian and a self-described Marxist. I have no problem with her being a lesbian. However – being a Marxist is very concerning. History has shown that Marxism cannot be instituted without indoctrinating children, changing the culture, and eradicating the family structure. Let’s keep our eye on the ball – stop making the library about politics and stop using children as political pawns.

    • James Flannery

      Emily Drabinski, President Elect of the American Library Assoc., deleted the tweet identifying herself as a Marxist. Hmm…wonder why? I guess she knows the truth will hinder her ability to indoctrinate our nation’s youth.

    • I agree with your considerate, well-written response.

  4. Respectfully, I would like to point out that the LGBTQ community has little to do with the overarching issue at hand. The issue is simple, are books about sexuality appropriate in the children’s section at the Sanibel Public Library. It is either a yes or a no question. There is no need to pull on heart strings of our dear community members to get your point across.

    • Abby Anderson

      Chealsea what exactly do you think the T stands for in LGBTQ?

      • Chelsea is saying anything sexual should not be directly targeted to minors. That includes heterosexual, homosexual, gender transitioning, sexual acts (biblical or not) etc. LGBTQ are groups of sexual preferences. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, queer, this isn’t against the movement between consenting adults or what adults decide is the best gender for themselves, it’s what is appropriate material to advertise to children… we need to protect the mental health of children.

  5. Dr. Stan Gordon

    Dr. Crater begins his op-ed by correctly relating that concerned parents requested the books in question be “relocated.” He ends his op-ed by using terms like “removing books” and “taking away access to books,” neither of which was requested by the concerned parents. Why the purposeful mischaracterization on his part of the concerned parents’ actual request? Why did the editorial board of the Santiva Chronicle not step into correct the obvious misrepresentation? It appears he needed help.

    Dr. Crater promotes the use of the website Common Sense Media for objective evaluation of media. Let’s follow the money and a simple search as to Common Sense Media easily reveals its promotion of a leftist political agenda which includes the promotion of gender dysphoria in our young and vulnerable children. https://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/common-sense-media/summary?id=D000032782 An objective source? Think again.

    Dr. Crater relates his daughter, citing a pop culture singer, was “born this way.” Dr. Crater is apparently a medical doctor and yet cannot cite any genetic studies or research establishing any “gay” chromosome marker that would in fact provide actual proof according to science of being “born this way.” He categorically rejects that a book might have led his daughter to “become gay” without offering any supporting research. We are left to conclude according to this doctor that when it comes to medical advice and the science as to his daughter “becoming gay” that Lady Gaga knows best???

    Lastly, Dr. Crater is identified as simply “a Sanibel resident.” Really? No word as to his being a sitting member of the Sanibel City Council with the power to vote on and affect decisions pertaining to the Sanibel Library. Is it ethical for this obviously biased and factually erroneous op-ed to be authored, published and promoted to a readership that potentially includes members of the Sanibel Library Board? Is the intent to pressure in a not so subtle way the Library Board as to their decisions?

    Something smells and it is very stinky.

    Dr. Stan Gordon

    • Dr. Gordon, to be clear, the Sanibel City Council has zero oversight over the library, its budget, or its board. The library has its own taxation district (similar to the fire district here). It has its own elected board and makes its own policies. Therefore I wrote my letter as a private citizen.
      Ms. Sincoskie, I missed the last library board meeting because I was out of town. And I will miss the next one for the same reason.

  6. Abby Anderson

    Thank you, Dr. Cramer, for your articulate and timely article. This sounds like a small group of parents who are afraid to tell their children ‘no’, and are making it hard for the rest of us. Such a shame.

    • John Arbuckle

      Madame Anderson,

      Parents like me just want to relocate the books to a section meant for older readers as to let kids learn more and develop an understanding on the topic and not develop any ideas due to being confused on the topic.

    • John Arbuckle

      Also fun fact you aren’t even a sanibel resident so why do you care.

  7. Jude Sincoskie

    This is just a misinformed opinion from a member of the Sanibel City Council who did not attend the library board meeting (Mayor Holly Smith and Councilman Miller both attended), nor did he speak with any of the parents or community members who are requesting the books be relocated. I don’t even believe he read the article published by this same source. Is this what we expect from a community leader?

  8. Sandra Greco MD

    Dr. Crater’s letter is accurate, well stated, & I agree with what he says. The books that some people wish to have relocated are written for children, & if any parent objects to their child reading a particular book, they should not check it out. Removing these books to an adult section would prevent easy access to those books, for parents & children who wish to read them. Several people have written responses to Dr. Crater’s letter which “twist” what he is saying & also attempt to malign him. He is certainly not “misinformed”, & I am concerned about the residents who responded to him in vindictive ways.
    Dr. Gordon’s characterization of the “Common Sense Media” site as “leftist” is false. It is a well respected, non-profit site used by many to help guide them.
    Freedom to choose for ourselves is essential. Those who want to begin by “relocating” books are suspect. Common sense tells us that these books pose no danger to our children, but I believe that those who wish to restrict my or anyone else’s choices do pose a serious danger to everyone.

  9. This is not an idea that sprang up from a group of concerned Sanibel Parents. This is the agenda of a national group that Gov. DeSantis supports and promotes. A little late but this controversy made the front page of the Ft. Myers paper the other day. Those of us who remember the librarians of our youth, those kind, lovely ladies who were forever shushing us, cannot equate this hostility with our memories. Who knew if the librarians were lesbians or Marxists ! I just knew they let me take books from the adult section before I was “old” enough because they knew me from my constant presence. Nobody is plotting to “groom” or to change your daughter into your son but we are insisting that our schools and our communities be warm accepting places where children can learn in a supportive environment. And Dr.Crater was right of course – social media is where we all, parents, grandparents and concerned adults, should exercise content scrutiny. And please listen to the lyrics those innocent children are mindlessly singing while we are driving them around. Tipper Gore came to grief when she went after disturbing lyrics while her husband was Vice President. And while we are at it, please return those books you found objectionable. Gay Pride month is over.

  10. Young children cannot fly to the library. They must be brought by their parent or other adult . That adult can edit their young child’s selection of reading material at the time without moving the location of the materials . The library serves all the citizens ; if you don’t want your children to read something substitute a book that you believe more appropriate.

  11. This was one of your most embarrassing Letters to the Editor. Did you take the time to read it? He starts out with a factual statement and then quickly goes into a bible rant, then a family history and ends about banning books. I’m seriously surprised you published this. You forgot to mention he’s a member of City Council. Ouch.

  12. Speaking of slippery slopes….

    I was on my way to the public library on the hunt for the kindergartner guide on transgenderism. I found myself parched, so I stopped off at Grandma Dots for a refreshment. After grabbing a nice cold soda in world famous Grandma Dots plastic cup, and a Sanibel mandated paper straw. I was ready to get back on my journey. Cruising down Periwinkle I suddenly ran into a street sign, it was warning me of a sign ahead, but for some reason the City forgot to put an additional sign warning of that sign. Fortunately it didn’t slow me down. I was in my Hummer, not my electric LSV. I just sold the electric LSV when I heard the city wants to ban them. I barley missed a guy with the electric leaf blower, he was cleaning up after the guys running the gas powered lawn mowers, tree trimmers and weed whackers. He was so quiet, I hardly knew he was there. After all this I grabbed my drink for a sip, the paper straw in my plastic cup was disintegrated. I decide to make a detour to Jerrys for some back-ups. After a quick run through the the store, I snatched up my plastic bag from the cashier filled with my new paper straws and headed back to the Hummer. Finally I arrived at the library. Eager to get my hands on the new book, I ran over to preschool section. Oddly, I was only able to nursery rhyme books and children’s stories. Not a transgender book in sight. So I asked the librarian, only to find out it’s been relocated next to the Bible.

  13. We NEED to hear the voice for many of us who are not in support of segregating the children’s books which represent the the differences of families and individuals. Sexuality is not a shameful subject to be hidden away. Appropriate children’s books reflect reality and parents can and should censor their own children’s choices, not other people’s children. Reality is that there are people of all orientations here. There are children who need to see themselves and their families represented in a PUBLIC library. That is the freedom we expect to have in our public schools and libraries.
    Those who rail against the “scare words”used to describe any leader who they disagree with are aware that “banning books” and censorship are not popular so they disguise those goals. However, they are so afraid of anything different than their traditional views they want to hide things in the “back of the bus” in the library.

  14. Bravo Scott! Ginny sent me this…comments here that criticize you personally are so unfounded. It’s a sad day when a subject for discussion turns into a quest for who’s most “right”.

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