Levine wins [LA] Times
award for powerful 'Harmful to Minors'
Prizes awarded in nine categories, including fiction, biography, current
interest, history and poetry
By J. Michael Kennedy, Times Staff Writer
Judith Levine, whose provocative book on children's sexuality created a
firestorm of controversy even before it was published, was awarded a Los Angeles
Times Book Prize in the current interest category Saturday night.
"Harmful to Minors: The Perils of Protecting Children from Sex"
presents the argument that children are often deprived of realistic advice about
sex. She also makes a case that young Americans are entitled to safe, satisfying
The award came as something of a surprise, given the topic and that one of the
finalists was Samantha Power, who recently won the Pulitzer Prize for "A
Problem From Hell: America and the Age of Genocide," which documents the
United States' failure to confront global crimes against humanity.
Levine was rebuffed by numerous publishers before the University of Minnesota
Press accepted the manuscript. One publisher called the book
"radioactive." But the judges for the book prizes thought differently,
calling the work "a cogent and passionate critique of the war against young
people's sexuality. An uncompromising humanist and feminist, Judith Levine
exposes the moral panic behind such policies as 'abstinence-only' sex education
and insists on adults' responsibility to give affirmative support to children's
and teenagers' sexual development."
The judges also commended the University of Minnesota Press for its courage in
publishing the book in the face of attacks by outraged state legislators. Levine
was presented the prize, a commendation and $1,000 at UCLA's Royce Hall as part
of the 2003 Los Angeles Times Festival of Books.
The prizes reward excellence in nine categories to books published in 2002,
including fiction, biography, current interest, history and poetry. Each
category was judged by three notable writers from the genre.
(discussion of other prize winners snipped)