Councilor Toowoomba calls for review of children’s books on racism, gender identity

A Toowoomba councilor calls for children’s books on anti-racism and gender identity to be removed from library shelves because young readers are being “indoctrinated by wry thoughts”.

In a post on social media, Councilman Tim McMahon said prices and taxes should not fund the purchase of books like Antiracist Baby and ABC of Gender Identity.

But his views have been rejected by advocates of anti-racism and gender diversity, who say it is important to address discrimination at all ages.

Antiracist Baby, by American author and academic Dr. Ibram X Kendi, is marketed as an introduction to the “concept and power of anti-racism”.

ABC of Gender Identity, by New York author Devika Dala, is promoted by its publisher as helping to “raise awareness and acceptance of different genders.”

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McMahon worried about younger readers

Cr McMahon said he came across the books in the junior reader section of the Toowoomba Library during a review of the region’s facilities.

“I’m certainly not against the resources that are valuable to older readers who might want to get into that kind of content,” he said.

A man in a suit with the Australian flag.
Toowoomba councilor Tim McMahon says the books are not suitable for young children.(Delivered: Facebook)

Important conversation to have

Anti-racism activist Prudence Melom says the books are appropriate and should be on library shelves.

“Racism exists. There are people who experience it on a daily basis,” Ms Melom said.

“If they can read more about it and understand the issue of racism better, then I see nothing wrong with that.”

A young woman is standing in the center of Toowoomba CBD
Prudence Melom, founder of E-Raced, says it is important to discuss racism with children.(ABC Southern Qld: Peter Gunders)

Melom said that although the conversation about racism with children could be unpleasant, it was important to talk about the problem.

“It’s time for them to get to grips with it and there is nothing to be ashamed of and it is not something to shy away from,” she said.

Inclusive and diverse

Bonnie Pimm, convener of Queers Reader Brisbane, said it was important that a number of books promoting inclusion and diversity were available.

“Having books and libraries with these resources can be invaluable to people who feel they have limited access to the information they need, and also a great resource to help support or understand friends and relatives. , who may be in the LGBTQI + community. “

Ms Pimm said community leaders had a responsibility to support them in minority groups, especially given the above-average incidence of mental illness and suicide for younger LGBTQI + individuals.

Toowoomba City Library with a water fountain outside.
The Council recently conducted a review of the Toowoomba City Library.(ABC Southern Qld: Peter Gunders)

Cr McMahon said he wanted a review of the books at local libraries.

“I did not say you know, ban them, censor them or anything, but I think we should have a conversation … generally about books that are age-appropriate.”

Toowoomba Regional Council CEO Brian Pidgeon said books would not be removed from the library solely on the basis of doctrinal or ideological disapproval.

He said any change in current policies would require a decision by a majority of councilors in a meeting.

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