Books behind Netflix’s ‘Heartstopper’ restricted in some Mississippi libraries. Why?

Young adults won’t be able to check out the YA books behind the hit Netflix series “Heartstopper” in some public libraries in southern Mississippi, news outlets reported.

Anyone under 17 will have to ask their parents for permission, since the YA book series is available only in the adult sections of the Columbia-Marion County Public Library per an Aug. 18 decision, the Mississippi Free Press reported.

The books were temporarily pulled from the libraries Aug. 9 after resident Heather McMurry complained about the LGBTQ story to the library’s board of directors, WDAM-7 reported.

At the meeting, McMurry shared a page from the book that shows two teenage boys kissing, the station reported.

Alice Oseman’s “Heartstopper” is a young adult series that tells a tender coming of age story between main characters Nick and Charlie as they experience the ups and downs of first love, friendships, coming out and mental health struggles.

Neither the books nor the wildly popular Netflix series contain any sexually explicit scenes — in fact, the graphic novels that inspired the show are published by Hachette Children’s Group.

They’re listed in the young adult genre, and Scholastic on its online bookstore recommends the series for readers between 12 and 18 or in grades seven through 12.

The library system’s board of directors called the second special meeting Friday, Aug. 18 to review residents’ complaints and vote on what to do next, library director Ryda Worthy told McClatchy News in an email.

That’s when they decided to permanently move the “Heartstopper” series to the adult sections in all three of the public libraries, as well as review every book in the teen area of the library for “more mature content.”

Books in the “Heartstopper” series were immediately moved into a “newly designated Graphic Novel section” in the Adult Fiction department, which shelves material for both young adults and adults, officials said.

The library system’s board of trustees and staff are considering splitting the teen area — which currently contains material for those 12 and older — into two smaller age categories, officials said. Any content they deem “more mature” would go adjacent to the Adult Fiction section.

The Mississippi Free Press reported McMurry declined their request to interview her, but outlined her comments to the Columbian-Progress saying she wanted the books “pulled from the children’s section” and moved “somewhere appropriate” — not outright banned.

McMurry also complained the young adult section was full of other titles she deemed inappropriate, and the board then agreed to review every book in the section, multiple reports say.

Several state representatives spoke out against the books at the meeting, including State Rep. Ken Morgan (R-Morgantown) and Sen. Angela Burks Hill, the Columbian-Progress reported.

Burks Hill shared a state law regarding “dissemination of sexually oriented material” to people younger than 18, and Morgan told the board of directors they could be charged with violating the law.

Residents weighed in on the decision in comments on a Aug. 12 post on the library’s Facebook page. Some praised the decision while others described it as “heartbreaking.”

“I believe you and all those present are genuinely concerned for the welfare of our children,” someone said while thanking the board for the decision.

Someone responded to that comment saying they didn’t think there was anything inappropriate for children in the book.

“Concerned for the welfare of children because there’s a book with no sexual material with two gay people,” they said. “This group called this book pornographic when it is anything but…. There is nothing adult about this book, if it was a heterosexual couple y’all would be completely fine.”

Columbia is about 75 miles southeast of Jackson.

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