GILLETTE — Two more book challenges were rejected by the Campbell County Public Library board Monday night.
Kevin Bennett had challenged the books because he believes they’re pushing the gay agenda on young children and exposing teens to alternative sexual practices.
“Be Amazing,” written by drag kid Desmond is Amazing, walks young readers through the history of the LGBTQ community.
“He became who he is because he was exposed to sexual propaganda,” Bennett said, adding that the author is nothing more than “a mascot used by the gay community to advance the gay agenda.”
Bennett said the book “openly advocates human trafficking, if you have but the wisdom to do a cursory search engine query. And you brought it into our library on our tax dollars.”
“This book, and the stacking of the deck we’ve seen systemically over the last year, represent direct prejudiced attacks of an agenda variety on Christian values and the parents that support them,” he said.
The book “tacitly encourages human trafficking,” Bennett said, and by the library board and staff’s refusal to acknowledge this, “that tacit encouragement extends to” them as well.
“You might as well just mess with the kids themselves,” he said. “I don’t like that. This is a by proxy application of child abuse.”
Bennett referred to a YouTube video from a few years ago where Desmond appears to pretend to snort ketamine with Michael Alig, a club promoter and convicted felon who died in 2020.
Board member Miranda Finn said “a great deal” of Bennett’s challenge focuses more on the personal conduct of the author and his parents, and “it doesn’t seem to touch enough on the actual content of the book.”
“The content of the book calls a prostitution ring something that is good for gay rights,” Bennett said, referring to a section on the Stonewall Inn, which is considered to be the birthplace of the gay rights movement. “The only way to understand that is to go into the context around what was in the book."
Board member Mandy Steward said most kids today have access to the internet without parental oversight, and she worried that after reading this book, they would look up Desmond is Amazing and come across this information.
She was the only board member who voted to grant Bennett’s appeal, with the other three board members voting to keep it in the children’s section.
The second challenged was “Sex Plus: Learning, Loving, and Enjoying Your Body,” by YouTuber Laci Green, has 16 chapters on a range of topics, from body image to birth control to masturbation to consent to “sexploration.”
The book is in the library’s teen section.
“This is not about gay or straight,” Bennett said. “This is about introducing sexuality to minors who can’t understand it yet.”
He said it all starts with the title, which “evocative of that which is not inherent to sex,” and the cover, which has a peach emoji on it. In texting, this emoji is more commonly used to symbolize a butt.
“This book on its cover openly advocates for sodomy using colloquial pictography of the generation it seeks to communicate with,” he said. “That’s grooming propaganda. It’s shameful.”
At that point, Bennett had been talking at least 35 minutes, and library board chairman Charlie Anderson asked how much longer he was going to go. Bennett said he would continue until he was finished.
“Can you be done in 5 minutes?” Finn asked.
“Uh, no, I’m going to finish this unless I get dragged out of here. I’ll finish this unless I’m dragged out. I have a legal right,” he said.
“We have a right to limit you on how long you can keep us all here,” said board member Nancy Stovall.
“You have a right to not be within the rules?” Bennett asked.
“We passed a rule that gives you 10 minutes,” Anderson said.
“I appealed for this before you passed the rule,” Bennett replied.
Anderson said Bennett would get 5 more minutes, and then the board would vote. Bennett kept reading, and he said anyone who masturbates regularly has a problem, and that just because society says it’s OK doesn’t mean it is OK.
“The Germans decided as a society Jews weren’t people. Doesn’t change the fact Jews were people and are people,” he said. “You can decide as a society that masturbation is healthy, doesn’t change the fact that it’s perverse and gross.”
At the end of the 5 minutes, the board asked Bennett to stop.
“We do have some questions for you,” Anderson said.
“I’ve got half a page left and I’m going to read it,” Bennett said.
At that point, the mic was cut off, so he continued reading, albeit at a much louder volume than before. He went into how the book talks about role playing, scratching, whipping and biting.
“So we think that it’s OK (to teach teens) how to incorporate electricity into their violent premarital gay sex?” he shouted, adding that “there’s no way” teenagers should be exposed to this kind of stuff, and the fact that a librarian would allow this to be in the teen section is “beyond sick.”
Steward said there were chapters of the book that concerned her, especially sections on pornography and sexting.
“That’s illegal, that’s causing children to commit crimes,” she said.
Bennett said the board is biased and had its mind made up before listening to everything he had to say.
“For you to sit up there and do a monologue for 45 minutes, we stop listening, nobody can concentrate that long,” Stovall said.
“You will not vote to remove these books, and that’s the problem,” Bennett said.
“And what you’re doing today is not helping,” Stovall said.
“Well, Hollie’s not here,” Bennett said, referring to former library board member Dr. Hollie Stewart, who resigned recently.
The board voted 3-1 to keep the book in the teen section.
Bennett said he is not wasting the board’s time, and that in fact, it’s the other way around.
“This has been going on since July, and I didn’t want to be here when it started. So my time has been monopolized by this body failing to exercise responsibility,” he said.
“We’re not going to stop fighting because this is unreasonable, this is unconscionable,” he added.