The Tate Britain has defended its public library after Conservative pressure groups criticised some of its resources, including books addressing gender identity.
The London art gallery recently came under fire after it was discovered that books in its Story Space – which includes books for teenagers and children – contained works on gender reassignment surgery and puberty blockers.
The brightly-coloured room located near the entrance to the building has teddy bears, board games, and books referring to young children discovering their sexuality and gender.
One book, named Rick, which is aimed at eight to 12-year-olds follows a boy who discovers he is asexual after meeting a group of children at an LGBTQAI+ society named the Rainbow Spectrum Club.
Others feature references to using puberty blockers and a married father discovering he is gay, with critical reaction leading the Tate to defend its library as a space open for “all ages”.
Chris McGovern, chairman of the right-wing pressure group Campaign for Real Education, told the Daily Mail children should be allowed to “be children”.
He said: “Children do not need to carry the burdens of adults…We need to let children be children.”
While children may not grow up to identify with the LGBTQAI+ community, inclusive books addressing sexuality and gender identity have been long accepted as vital for promoting inclusivity.
Children who grow up feeling accepted and accepting others are less likely to feel sidelined by society, researchers have found, and they experience better mental health outcomes.
Publishers Harper Collins explains that the books “may provide readers with a path in life that they didn’t know previously existed, opening up the world to them”.
A spokeswoman for the Tate Britain said: “The Story Space is open to visitors of all ages and contains a range of books for children and teenagers, all of which can be found in bookshops and public libraries.
“It is a space where parents can sit with children to read and play.
“Trained staff are always on hand to advise families about the range of books available.”
The Tate Britain enjoys charitable status and, as an art gallery, contains works by some of the UK’s most famous artists.
Francis Bacon and William Turner, artists both famous for challenging depictions of sexuality in their paintings, are among those platformed by the institution.