REPORTED BY: SPENCER LINDQUIST | INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM | FEBRUARY 16, 2022
This article features obscene quoted material.
As parents across the nation wake up to the threat that the American educational system poses to children, many have taken note of the sexually explicit, politically motivated literature that has made its way into public and school libraries.
In Wyoming, community members notified the police department about explicit books in the local library’s youth section. “Sex is a Funny Word,” written by Cory Silverberg and illustrated by Fiona Smyth, is one such book. It was placed on the American Library Association Reading List for 2016. Intended for those as young as 7-year-old second graders, the book has been featured in middle school libraries and discusses the “subjects of transgender identity, intersex conditions, and masturbation.” It also erroneously claims that “having a penis isn’t what makes you a boy. Having a vulva isn’t what makes you a girl. The truth is much more interesting than that!”
This type of propagandizing has become standard for the left-wing extremists embedded in our education system. But what makes it all the more astonishing is both the thoroughly unnerving — and previously unreported — history of this book’s author and the institutional support that’s propelled him to notoriety.
From Sex Shops To School Libraries
Cory Silverberg’s website links to the four books he’s written. Each one focuses on the same thing: sex. With the exception of “The Ultimate Guide to Sex and Disability,” which he coauthored with Miriam Kaufman and Fran Odette, the author’s work is aimed at children. His latest book, “You Know, Sex,” another collaboration with Smyth, is available for pre-order and discusses “pornography,” “stigma,” and “gender.” He calls the book “essential for kids.” His website bio states, “Cory’s life is full of kids. All of them know where babies come from. Some know more.”
Who is this man so intent on informing your children not only about sex, but about pornography, transsexuality, and masturbation? On his website, which advertises children’s books, the author cites himself as a “founding member of Come As You Are Co-operative,” an anti-capitalist sex shop in Toronto, which he also links to.
As the Toronto Star noted years ago, this isn’t just any sex shop. This is a “beginner’s sex store.” The outlet noted that the store hoped “to hold an off-site sex-education workshop for parents of children aged 7 to 12, one that will focus on more than reproduction.” The Star went on to quote Silverberg as saying, “Our overall focus is pleasure-based rather than fear-based.”
The shop’s website includes a section that catalogs the owners’ media appearances. One edition of Fab magazine, published on February 7, 2007, includes an article titled “Come As You Are Celebrates 10 Years.” It spares no details, highlighting a “Japanese rope bondage” workshop, while also graphically describing a real life, in-person “workshop” that featured sexual demonstrations from two naked men.
The disturbing focus on children that is so clear on Silverberg’s personal website is just as apparent on the sex shop’s website. Right next to ads for the exact type of products you’d expect a sex shop to sell, is a “Kids, Parents, and Teens Books” section. The section boasts “sex positive guides for younger folk.”
The kid’s section carries books like “Gender Creative Child,” a guide to masturbation, and “Woke Parenting,” which seeks to help readers “raise your kids to be feminist, anti-racist,” and “gender-inclusive.” Silverberg’s own books are also featured on the site.
Involvement In Curriculum Development
The author’s involvement in Ante Up reveals a conscious desire to embed his distorted worldview into schools. The organization advertises “socio-emotional learning” curriculum that “focuses on supporting educators of color and working-class educators in unlearning the white supremacist ableist heteropatriarchal ways of writing and educating others.”
The sex shop co-founder is joined by such esteemeed co-collaborators as Clarissa Francis, who cut squarely into the Babyon Bee’s marketshare when her bio explained that she “developed the Let Freedom C.U.M. Sexuality Workshop Series to equip Black sexuality professionals, and the aspiring sexually liberated, to recognize and utilize multi-disciplinary approaches to discussing Pleasure Activism as a tool for Black Sexual Liberation.”
The organization seems to have courted favor with various political bodies in New York. Ante Up’s founder Bianca Laureano “wrote the sexual and reproductive justice discussion guide for the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene,” according to her bio. Silverberg spoke on “Sex Is a Funny Word” for the NYC Department of Education’s Office of Curriculum, Instruction, and Professional Learning.
Institutional Support of Extremism
It isn’t a fluke that a leftwing sex shop founder has been propped up as an authority on sexuality, with direct access to children. Media and education institutions, alongside several leftwing activists, have helped mainstream such fringe beliefs. The author is praised because of, not in spite of, the extremism of his sexual worldview.
That “Sex is a Funny Word” was lauded by Kristin Russo on behalf of BuzzFeed as “revolutionary” tells you everything you need to know, but the outlet was one of many institutions to lend its support.
The book won the American Library Association’s Stonewall Award and was celebrated by the School Library Journal, which called the book “exceptional” specifically because of “its introduction of the subjects of transgender identity, intersex conditions, and masturbation.” The organization publishes roughly 6,000 book reviews every year and bills itself as “the premiere publication for librarians and information specialists who work with children and teens.”
Lambda Literary, which “nurtures and advocates for LGBTQ writers,” heaped praise on the book, noting that it took “his radical approach to sex education” featured in his first book even further. It goes on to discuss the role that the book can have in cementing cultural shifts. During an interview with the organization, the author pointed out that some of his critics believe that he is “warping people’s ideas of gender.” He flatly responded, “Maybe I am.”
Various activists, each of whom is committed to overthrowing healthy conceptions of sex, lauded the book alongside these institutions in reviews posted on Amazon.
Andee Hochman is an accomplished leftwing activist who wrote a book all about upending traditional notions of family. It was named “one of the 100 most important feminist books of the 20th century by Sojourner magazine.” Hochman celebrated “Sex Is a Funny Word’s” “radical and urgent message – sexuality with a side of social justice,” also expressing glee that one of the children in the book was portrayed as non-binary. Her lone critique? The text was too small.
Transgender activist and author of “My New Gender Workbook” Kate Bornstein was similarly impressed, writing a review that proposed the book as a viable alternative to college, graduate school, and even “years of therapy.” This is high praise, especially from an activist who wrote the “Step by-Step Guide to Achieving World Peace Through Gender Anarchy and Sex Positivity.”
Aidan Key, who leads trainings in schools, remarked that the book enables readers to “step out of today’s binary gender paradigm,” while Slate’s Rachelle Hampton lauded the book because it “humorously tackles topics from gender to masturbation” and was “leaps and bounds ahead” of other books “in terms of how progressive it is.”
But Huffington Post outdid both Slate and BuzzFeed years ago when they offered the author a platform and even hosted a symposium on reshaping America’s sexual norms with him and more established leftwing activists. The author’s extreme views were given the patina of normalcy through the presence of more mainstream activists like notable author Esther Perel and the widely published Ian Kerner, who talk less of childhood masturbation and more of feminism and relationships. They were also joined by academic Leonore Tiefer, who was involved in the leadership of an organization intent on keeping perversity like “Sex is a Funny Word” in school libraries. Tiefer won an award named after Alfred Kinsey, a hero of the pro-pedophile group NAMBLA.
What’s so telling isn’t the book itself, but that the beliefs behind it, undoubtedly considered reprehensible by massive swaths of the world, have been intentionally mainstreamed by both an activist base and an institutionally backed political movement that’s hostile to traditional notions of decency. No wonder parents are getting active.
Cory Silverberg did not respond to a request for comment.