". . . and having done all . . . stand firm." Eph. 6:13


Louisiana Parish Takes Stand to Protect Children from Sexually Explicit Content in Local Library

May 10, 2024

In May 2022, a parent from Loudoun County, Virginia, exposed a book promoting prostitution, which was found in a library within the Loudon County Public Schools. The book, written by Iris Gottlieb and titled, “Seeing Gender: An Illustrated Guide to Identity and Expression,” contained a chapter with the headline: “‘Sex Work’ Is Not a Bad Term.” The book instigated shock from teachers and parents alike, followed by immediate action.

Since then, there have been numerous protests against sexually explicit books in children’s libraries — most of which are tied directly to LGBT ideology. And while some schools seem to be taking steps to rid their libraries of books containing pornographic content, other schools have actively silenced furious parents who have spoken out. Recent events continue to demonstrate the back-and-forth battle over children’s libraries and which books are to fill their shelves. The St. Tammany Parish Council (STPC) in Louisiana, however, has had enough of the bickering and is taking direct action.

STPC was created to push back on this very topic, and on Thursday, the council chose to vet “more than 20 candidates who had volunteered to serve on the parish’s seven-person Library Board of Control, which oversees the public library system,” Nola reported. Additionally, “The council opted to replace every current member of the board except for one with a slate of candidates who were endorsed by local advocacy groups seeking tighter restrictions on material they say is sexually explicit.” Three rounds of voting resulted in the council welcoming five new members. With a fresh start, STPC hopes to move forward to protect children by establishing libraries free from inappropriate content.

As Family Research Council President Tony Perkins explained on Thursday’s episode of “Washington Watch,” it’s been roughly two years since “sexually explicit” books “teaching gay, lesbian, and transgender ideologies” were discovered in the St. Tammany Parish library. These books were “readily available to minors throughout the library,” he added, and “parents … didn’t shrink back. They didn’t go silent. They actually formed an organization to push back.” One of those parents, who now serves on STPC, is David Cougle, who joined Perkins to discuss the recent vote.

Cougle shared that around the summer of 2022, he noticed the national headlines of schools combatting progressive ideology from infiltrating kids’ libraries. And it was around the time he noticed it had crept up in his neighborhood that he chose to get involved. He shared how he joined the parents in saying to those in charge: “You should represent community standards here. We don’t want our money spent on this stuff.”

According to the councilman, “[O]ne of the local news stations out of New Orleans said that they could not even show or discuss what was in some of these books because it couldn’t be shown on TV, which should kind of give you an idea” of just how grotesque the content was. He added, it got so “extreme” that “people were getting embarrassed with it being mentioned in public. It was just so vulgar.”

But this is when things started to change. As Cougle recalled, the parents noticed that a lot of the censorship and ignorance surrounding the issue “was intentional.” He said what was happening seemed to demonstrate that those allowing these books to remain on the shelves of minors’ school libraries “saw their role as kind of challenging community standards instead of respecting them.” And so, he emphasized, “[W]e started demanding, ‘You need to adhere to community standards, you need to serve the public.’”

Perkins noted, “There’s a message here for other parents” and anyone who sees “these types of things happening in their communities.” And it’s that “we should be concerned about what all children are being exposed to.” Not simply because they are young and vulnerable, but “ultimately because they become citizens of the communities we live in,” he observed. “But sometimes it appears overwhelming to get involved and to make a difference.” And considering this, Perkins asked Cougle, a parent who has stepped up to act, “What would you say to other parents who are concerned about what they see happening in their communities?”

As a resident of Louisiana, Cougle noted that his role to improve the community often felt separate from the social matters. Residents typically “don’t focus on social issues, and we don’t screen for social issues. That’s in the legislature, that’s in Congress,” he said. “But the library issue has changed that.” He expressed, in direct response to parents’ concerns over what their children are being exposed to in schools, people are starting to ask where their counties are on the social issues. “Not just drainage, not just … zoning,” Cougle added, “but where are you on the social issues? Like how, in our case, our … $14 million library system functions.”

And so, for Cougle, it’s all about perspective. “[I]t’s so easy to just focus on what’s happening in D.C.,” he said. But in reality, he added, “where we really have an impact is these local elections.” Perkins agreed, emphasizing the importance of parent involvement stems from the fact that “these issues have become an issue at every level now because of the way the Left has pushed this indoctrination.” But while it can be daunting, Cougle concluded by encouraging parents to get involved and run for local offices, especially since his experience proved that is where true change starts to occur.

Sarah Holliday is a reporter at The Washington Stand.