23 August 2023

Yass councillor calls for youth sex education book's removal from library

| Claire Sams
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The bottom of a line of books, with the spines pointing upwards

A notice of motion has been organised by a councillor to ban a youth sex education book from the shire library. Photo: Tom Hermans/Unsplash.

Yass Valley Council is being asked to remove a sex education book from its library, with claims it takes a pro-sex stance and contains “judgemental treatment of those who value virginity”.

Welcome to Sex: Your No-Silly-Questions Guide to Sexuality, Pleasure and Figuring It Out is written by Dr Melissa Kang and Yumi Stynes, with illustrations by Jenny Latham. On publisher Hardie Grant Publishing’s website, it is described as an age-appropriate introduction to sex and sexuality pitched at teenagers aged between 12 and 15.

The book discusses contraception, physical development, masturbation, gender diversity, safe sex, gender identity and disability but has caused a backlash, with some claiming its content is too explicit and inappropriate for young children and teenagers.

Yass Valley Councillor Jasmin Jones has lodged a notice of motion for this week’s council meeting, calling for the book to be removed from Yass Valley Library and for the council to consider creating a group to review library resources.

The book that has sparked a backlash, including within Yass Valley Council over the publication being stocked in the council library. Photo: Hardie Grant Publishing.

In her reasoning for the motion in the meeting agenda, Cr Jones said she was concerned about the book’s content.

“Of much concern is its specific advice to children regarding ‘safe’ ways to send nude photos [it is illegal to send nude photos of children],” she wrote.

Cr Jones also said the book failed to raise the important issue of the legal age of consent – 16 or 17 depending on which Australian state you are in – until page 119.

A response attributed to the council’s chief executive officer Chris Berry was included in the meeting agenda, where he said the book had been purchased in a bulk buy of new releases.

Mr Berry also acknowledged that there were concerns about the book.

“The staff responded to the concerns by placing the book in the Non-Fiction Collection for Adults and Young Adults,” he wrote.

“There is an expectation there is a level of parental supervision of young children to monitor their reading selections and therefore unlikely that young children would access the Adult and Young Adult collections within the library.”

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Cr Jones also wrote that she was concerned children younger than the book’s target audience could read the book.

She said, on balance, it took a pro-sex stance and contained “judgemental treatment of those who value virginity”.

She said it used “non-heterosexual teenagers as examples of children ready to ‘put themselves on the map’ for sexual experiences in years 7-8, which is under the legal age of consent”.

In response to the motion, Mr Berry said any library restrictions on availability would follow a classification from the Australian Classification Board.

“Without an Australian Classification Board classification, the book is unclassified and therefore unrestricted,” he wrote.

“There are no age restrictions for a book without a classification.”

Mr Berry also wrote that establishing a group to review Yass Valley Library content would double-up on the board’s role.

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The book is available in Big W stores, though it was pulled from the shelves in July after staff members were abused, and it is currently labelled as an ”online only” item on Big W’s website.

Amid the backlash, the book has topped Amazon Australia’s bestseller list.

Welcome to Sex is the fourth book co-written by Dr Kang and Ms Stynes in their Welcome To series of Welcome to Your Period, Welcome to Consent and Welcome to Your Boobs.

Yass Valley Council’s next meeting will be on Thursday, 24 August, from 4 pm.

Meeting agendas and minutes are available on the council’s website.

Original Article published by Claire Sams on About Regional.

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HiddenDragon7:04 pm 23 Aug 23

It wasn’t sold by Big W, and would have been found in few, if any, local libraries, but this was certainly around in its day and did not turn Australia (or even Yass) into a latter day version of Sodom and Gomorrah –


Haven’t these prudes got anything better to do than moralise and shove their outdated views down people’s throats?

@rustygear, you don’t have to borrow the book if you don’t want to.

“Aaaaaaah will someone please think of the children” (sound of outraged screaming)

Banning published books … … What’s next: burning books? Is it ever possible to disconnect sex education and morality? I would hate to think banning sex education books is the answer, because the rippling effects and social cost of sexual ignorance is way higher.

The problem with the pink hair crowd, from where this book originates, is that on sensitive cultural matters like young people’s sex education, it’s their way or the highway. We have a large multicultural community in Australia, many of whom have quite different ideas about what is appropriate for their offspring, often far less individualistic and more tied to family considerations. But the pink haired crowd are having none of that, since they are full of their own cultural righteousness. They’re arrogant insensitive cultural hegemonists, dressed up in rainbow. Quite right to challenge their self-appointed fiat.

Seems to me that you are ‘hung by your own petard’. You lambast the ‘pink hair crowd’ for imposing their views in this book on others, but you seek to have them censored because you disagree with those views.

Funny how it works, isn’t it. I’ll let you think of all the contortions around other identity groups, and how far right wing fascist it would be to not consider those sensitivites. But the new clerisy is never wrong and all I can do is now before

Uh oh, the PC police have arrived. Suspected thoughtcrime alarm. Well constable, we’re in an era of bowdlerised books, but somehow there’s an excuse for that that doesn’t involve being so hoisted. In short, the pink hair brigade have a monopoly on cultural power, and just as history is written by the victors, they are always right.

Unfortunately I cannot address either of your comments as I have absolutely no idea what point/s your are making. If you care to repost, in a coherent language an ordinary bloke might understand, I will happily respond.

David Wilcox8:18 pm 24 Aug 23

You obviously forgot how old you were when you became attracted to someone else

‘contains “judgemental treatment of those who value virginity”.’??? How can you not be judgemental of people who value a tiny bit of skin that may or may not exist in women who have never had intercourse?? How idiotic…

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