Removal of gender diversity, sex education books from public libraries sparks controversy

By Cho Min-jeong
Published : July 27, 2023 - 14:31


Concerns over censorship are growing in South Chungcheong Province over the provincial government's decision to remove seven titles dealing with sex and gender issues from public libraries following complaints from conservative groups.

South Chungcheong Governor Kim Tae-heum on Tuesday told the provincial assembly that seven titles on such issues were removed from 36 public libraries. The move follows a "flood of complaints" from conservative groups, including the Kkumkium Growth Institute, according to local news reports.

The Kkumkium Growth Institute in mid-May sent an official request to public libraries demanding the removal of books discussing topics such as homosexuality, abortion and underage sex. The initial list consisted of 120 books but has expanded to 153, with additional requests to exclude books related to suicide.

Librarians have expressed concerns over the ongoing complaints and protests, which have significantly disrupted the library's operations. An anonymous library official additionally disclosed that the list of discarded books also includes those that promote diversity and discourage children from adhering to gender stereotypes and biases.

The group's calls also gained the support of members of the South Chungcheong Province Assembly, with Rep. Ji Min-kyu expressing concerns over the availability of hundreds of sex education books in schools and public libraries within the province.

Publishing houses have also voiced apprehension, denouncing the move as "censorship." Yun Eun-ju, the author of "Girl and Boy: How to Become a Wonderful Person" (Sakyejul Publishing Co.), which was included in the contested book list, emphasized that her book aimed to help children grow up without rigid gender roles.

She criticized the use of forceful measures to control books that simply promote common sense and understanding. “The situation remains contentious, with conflicting perspectives on the rights of access to information and the significance of promoting diverse viewpoints within society,” she said.

By Cho Min-jeong (blacknib@heraldcorp.com)


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