Update: On Oct. 13, Christendom College issued a statement addressing this report, wherein it claims “the author of the piece intentionally chose to create the impression that a number of Christendom College professors support the inappropriate material remaining in the library.” In light of this statement, Church Militant is making the letter available with the endorsements of the eight Christendom faculty members. As noted in this report, six of the eight professors (the six full-time professors’ contact info is on Christendom’s website) were contacted by Church Militant, but only one responded, saying, ” I am making no further comment on the library matter, and I hope you will respect my privacy henceforth.” He sent his response to the other professors, and they, too, chose to make no comment.
FRONT ROYAL, Va. (ChurchMilitant.com) – Eight Christendom College professors are supporting a local library that is lending sexually explicit children’s books.
In a September letter to the Board of Supervisors in Warren County, Virginia, the six full-time and two part-time professors expressed their support for the funding of Samuels Public Library, while the municipality faced scrutiny from other local Catholics over LGBT books written for minors.
The eight Christendom signatories are Andrew Beer, Molaika Beer, Eric Jenislawski, Dixie Lane, Adam Schwartz, Chris Shannon, Steve Snyder, and Matthew Tsakanikas. In all, 42 Catholics in the area signed the letter supporting the local library.
The letter reads:
We, as Catholic parents concerned for the good of the entire Warren County community, urge you to release all the funding designated in this year’s budget for Samuels Public Library.
We believe that the closure of the library, even if only temporary, would deprive the citizens of Warren County of a resource that is essential for our flourishing as a community.
While we can understand many of the concerns voiced by some of our fellow Warren County Catholics regarding the curation of the library collection, we believe that the library is taking appropriate actions to address these concerns.
We wish to express our esteem and gratitude for all the librarians, staff, and volunteers of Samuels Public Library. We value their work to make this vital service available to all the people of Warren County.
We urge you to allow the library to continue serving our community without interruption.
Church Militant reached out to the six full-time college professors for clarity on their support for the library. One declined to comment, and the others have not responded as of publication time.
A grassroots organization named “Clean Up Samuels” was established in the spring after a 4-year-old reportedly came across “objectionable” books that made parents “dig deeper” into the library’s collections. The group reported, “Parents and members of [the] community filled out forms and sent emails petitioning the library to remove books with mature, controversial and pornographic content.”
In one reconsideration form, an individual cited many passages from the book, Ana on the Edge, which is listed as having a target audience of 8–12 years olds. In the book, after 12-year-old Ana tells her mother she is “non-binary,” Ana’s mother says,
“But how can you be something other than a boy or a girl? What else is there? I was there when you were born. I know what you are. Or thought I did.” Alex says, “Does this have something to do with your internal identity?” Ana says, “It’s not about how my body looks. It’s how I feel and what people think when they see me. That’s why I cut my hair shorter and wear the clothes I do. I don’t want them to think ‘girl.’ But I don’t want them to think ‘boy,’ either. It’s tricky.” Mom says, “Because you’re something in between?” Ana says, “Yeah. Or neither. I’m not sure yet. I just know how I feel. Not a boy, and not a girl.” Then her mother hugs her.
Many other citations from the book promoting homosexuality and transgenderism were listed to show why the novel is inappropriate for children. Other books with much more sexually explicit and vulgar passages were detailed in other submissions. A counter group named “Save Samuels” formed in opposition and released many requests for reconsideration forms sent in by the concerned parents. Save Samuels claimed the CUS group was “seeking to silence LGBTQ+ voices.”
All the submissions that were responded to were reportedly met with the same answer: that each book was deemed by every reviewing member of the library to be within library guidelines and, therefore, would not be removed. According to the library, “Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.”
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Citizens then called on the Warren County Board of Supervisors to help remove these books from the library. The county gives the library over $1 million annually and threatened to take away the funding unless action was taken and governance changed to have the county better represented on the library’s board. The library denied the request to give more control of the board to the county, but the library did enact some changes on the LGBT book issue, while not getting rid of the indoctrination paraphernalia.
The library and county leaders struck a deal last week, restoring the funds with minimal changes and no discarding of books.
New Library Policies
Church Militant spoke with Eileen Grady, the interim library director, about the new policies put in place at Samuels since the controversy began. She reported that the library created a new section in the adult side of the library, where 800 books that contained sexually explicit material — whether heterosexual or homosexual in nature — now reside. The director claimed, “We erred on the side of being super conservative when we went through and evaluated every item in the young adult collection.”
Samuels Public Library
According to Grady, the young adult collection of books could include books for children as young as 12, depending on the publisher’s categorization.
The interim director also confirmed books categorized as “easy fiction” or “juvenile” — which are meant for younger children — “were not looked at in this capacity,” meaning the pro-gay books for younger children were not moved.
Those books, she said, were being looked at on a case-by-case basis when a request-for-reconsideration form was submitted, the same forms previously used by Front Royal residents. As mentioned, the requests in those forms were rejected.
When asked whether children are allowed on the adult side of the library, Grady told Church Militant that children escorted by a parent are able to go on that side of the building.
She also said if she were to see a child 12 or under on the adult side unaccompanied, she should ask the child where his parents are “because we have a safe child policy that no child under the age of 12 is allowed to roam free in the library without parental supervision.”
Grady added that the other new change to the library system was the addition of two new types of library cards. Besides the basic card that anyone can use, access-limited cards are now available for parents to request in order to restrict the books their children can check out.
The Royal Examiner reported, “The Juvenile Limited Card ensures that a child younger than 12 may only check out materials from the physical collection of juvenile books at the library. It is important to note there is no access to online materials.”