Religious Conservatives Target Gay-Friendly Children's Books

ByABC News
June 14, 2005, 6:01 PM

CONVINGTON, La., June 14, 2005 — -- What seems an acceptable -- even laudable -- children's book subject to those in the literary world of Manhattan does not necessarily go over well in this suburban nook just outside of Baton Rouge.

At this year's BookExpo America in New York City, publishers reveled in new books about gays and lesbians -- written for children.

"I think the important part is for a kid to see himself in a book, and equally important for a kids to see people who are not like themselves in books, so they can learn to be tolerant of people who are not like them," said David Gale, vice president and editorial director of Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.

One book for preschoolers called "King & King" is about a prince who falls in love with another prince.

"It's inclusive," said Phil Wood, publisher of San Francisco's Ten Speed Press, which published "King & King." "This is a book that librarians can recommend to parents because there isn't another book like it. It's a very positive book about gay people. Anyway, it's widely purchased by libraries. It's in most libraries."

But what's popular in New York City is not always as well-received in more conservative parts of the country. In Louisiana, for instance, "King & King" is causing a royal controversy.

One parent was alarmed when her child brought home a copy of "King & King" from the local library. Her husband complained to her state legislator, State Rep. A.G. Crowe, R-Slidell, who wrote a resolution to urge librarians to keep books with gay content away from kids.

"When a book of a very bizarre nature, a very offensive nature, is found in a library in an area that would be considered very conservative, this tends to raise some eyebrows," Crowe told ABC News. "It certainly goes against our family values that we so treasure here in Louisiana."

The issue has set off an intense local debate.

"You could keep it in the library for other people to read, but I'm not going to let my family read it," said Clancey Lemoine, a Convington resident and mother. "There are people, though, that want to read it."