The comfortable, if not a little-dated small town of Prattville, Alabama, has a population of 38,286. The library is the Prattville Autauga Library. Imagine you have come here with another homeschooling family for your weekly adventure into the literary lands. Your children look forward to this outing every week, and you love watching them race around, so excited by the new stories they will discover. Until one day, you pick up a book that stops you cold in your tracks.

Here, in the section for 8-12 year olds, you pick up The Language of Seabirds. Sounds interesting! However, his book is not what it appears to be. Delving deeper, you discover that it is actually “[a] sweet, tender middle-grade story of two boys finding first love with each other over a seaside summer.” Someone, you think, should do something about this. Me? But I’m just a mom. How can I make a difference? We did it, and you can do it too. Here’s how.

One discovery led to another. One mom found another book, and then a dozen scoured the whole children’s library. Before long, these moms identified 80 books, readily available to children in preschool through high school, that address LGBT themes, including transgenderism, and explicit sexual content. Some include obscene depictions of deviant sexual activity.

The moms initially submitted a list of the seven worst books to the head librarian, but, being informed that there is a process for challenging books, they submitted the requisite forms. “Surely,” they thought, “the inclusion of these books is just an oversight, and as soon as we bring this to their attention, it will be remedied.” After two weeks, the time necessary for review according to library policy, they were ultimately astonished to find the library intended to do nothing. The books would remain in the children’s library.

Not satisfied with this callous response, the parents knew they had to ratchet up the pressure. After researching the charter and bylaws of the library, they discovered that the library is funded by the Prattville City Council and the Autauga County Commission and that the library board, which sets policies, is appointed by these two elected bodies. Armed with this information, they started an online petition that garnered 350 signatures in a matter of days. They brought together other parents and grandparents to form a group called Clean Up Prattville and showed up at the next Autauga County Commission meeting, and later, the Prattville City Commission meeting.

The Prattville City Council listened with great indifference, claiming they couldn’t get involved at all with how the library was run, even though they appointed four of the seven members of the library board and provided $355,000 of the $700,000 budget to the small library.

City Council President Lora Lee Boone said of the concerned parents, “They are speaking to the wind.” Not willing to let it go, at the next meeting, the parents showed up with the actual books in hand. Excerpts from the books were read publicly, causing the leaders of a Boy Scout troop to herd the boys out of the room hastily.

As Clean Up Prattville members arrived for the next city council meeting in July, they were informed the council had decided — outside of their meeting — to impose a new policy curtailing the free speech of those attending. The policy stated:

“It is the policy of this council to no longer allow the reading of excerpts from printed material aside from matters currently pending on the council’s agenda. Members of the public are welcome to send and/or discuss these matters with their councilor outside this council meeting or to email them. The council reserves the right to remove any person who fails to follow the directions of the presiding officer.”

They even had police officers, as Boone said, present to assist in removing people who violated the new rule. The mayor remarked on how he was “65 years old but very red-faced,” that is, made uncomfortable, by the readings that took place during the previous meeting. (Remember, the readings were from books located in the children’s library; any child could pick one of these books up and read it.) Still, we, the members of Clean Up Prattville, spoke out about the books.

At the next meeting, Hannah Rees, one of the founders of Clean Up Prattville, brought more than a dozen pornographic books found in our children’s library and began to describe their contents, being sure not to read from the books, per the new policy. Rees was interrupted by Boone who told her not to use such language in describing the books and that by doing so, she would risk forfeiting her speaking time. Undeterred, Rees then described the graphic sexual content of a book checked out from the teen section of the Prattville library. Boone interrupted Rees, exclaiming, “You can’t say these things here. This meeting is live-streamed, and there could be children watching.”

As a board member of Eagle Forum of Alabama, I can say we are grateful to these brave parents and citizens for standing up to those who are trying to groom our children, spoil their innocence, and make the already difficult job of parenting even more difficult. We have partnered with Clean Up Prattville to form Clean Up Alabama and have formed groups across the state to examine local libraries.

Sadly, this problem — the presence of books with age-inappropriate and sexual content in children and teens sections — exists in most of the libraries we have examined so far. While Clean Up Prattville seeks to work with local leaders, as Clean Up Alabama, they have partnered with Eagle Forum of Alabama to address this problem at a state level at the Alabama Public Library System board meeting. The APLS is the state agency controlling the state funds and regulating the public libraries in the state….

It’s been almost a year since this battle started. We once heard our city councilwoman say she believed we would give up after a few meetings if they just stayed strong. She couldn’t have been more wrong. What have we accomplished during this year? As of Nov. 30, 2023, we have replaced every single member of the Prattville-Autauga Library Board. And as of March 8, 2024, we passed every reform we have asked for, including age-restricted library cards for children, removal of all books with sexual content from the children’s library, a ban on buying children’s books with sexual content, and warning labels added to books, in the adult section, with sexual content.

From the Federalist