Saturday, August 22, 2009

Hear Me Out!

One of the books to which Maziarka has objected is Hear Me Out!: True Stories of Teens Educating and Confronting Homophobia, edited by Frances Rooney, and published by Second Story Press in Toronto. It is listed in West Bend library documents among "books presented by Jim [&] Ginny Maziarka for reconsideration on 2/12/09."

Hear Me Out! is a collection of 20 first-person accounts written by lesbian, gay, and transgender teens of various cultural backgrounds. Their stories describe their individual processes of recognizing and coming to terms with their sexualities, and dealing with homophobia, both internal and external. The stories are at times compelling, at times sad and frustrating.

This book is about self-acceptance and cultural prejudice; it is not about sex. There are a few black-and-white drawings and photographs, none of a sexual nature. Two photographs depict a pierced nipple, evidently of a male. One small photograph shows the faces of two young men about to kiss. That's as racy as this book gets in either text or images; there are no descriptions of sexual activity. A small amount of strong language is used by the authors in describing various attitudes they encounter. One of the writers went so far as to asterisk out the vowels in strong words (e.g, "sh*t"). There is some verbal abuse recorded, as some of the writers describe how they were taunted by others. There is little in the way of physical violence, although one writer describes her father nearly killing her.

Online searches show that this book is shelved in at least 27 public and high-school libraries in Wisconsin. It is classified "Young Adult" in most of them. Barnes and Noble shows the "Age Range" for this book as "12 and up," while lists the "Reading level" as "Young Adult." An online review by Reed Business Information lists the age range as "Grades 9 and up."

Is it prurient, patently offensive, or without serious value? NO, not by any stretch of the imagination.

AN OPEN CHALLENGE TO GINNY MAZIARKA: Post a comment to this blog that explains your objection to Hear Me Out!. Tell us clearly what it is about this book you find objectionable, and state in tangible, practical detail what you think the library should do with/to this book. If you feel your explanation needs more space than a blog comment allows, post a full article on your own WISSUP blog and leave a link in a comment here. (Yes, you should expect your response to be scrutinized and debated).


  1. Ginny's objection to this book much like her anti-GLBTQ posts is simply proof that this has nothing to do with sex in books and everything to do with homosexuality.

  2. According to this comment, Ginny has "responded" to your challenge. Is that true, and can you divulge what was said?

  3. I forwarded my challenge to her by email. She responded to me by email, declining to respond to my challenge.

  4. I work with Teens Educating and Confronting Homophobia, and my story is one of those included in the book.

    Please let me know more about the list that our book has been included on. Who is the creator of this list, and what is the implication of our book being on it? I'm curious!


  5. Anna:
    see to see the list of books challenged, who did it, etc.

    Short Answer: a religious conservative in West Bend, Wisconsin, created quite a public uproar about gay-themed books in the public library. Her demands morphed rapidly over time, from removing a few books to re-shelving out of the Young Adult section, and putting warning stickers on one or another category of books. She convinced half the town that the library was housing pornographic books.

    As of now (Oct 2009), this controversy has quieted down, the prime mover having moved on to other topics. She still takes a swipe at the library from time to time, but the library has so far resisted imposing any restrictions, and this now seems unlikely to change.

    Hope that helps.

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