The Antioch Village Council will not try to ban the sale at a downtown bookstore of a graphic novel about gender confusion, according to a statement by Mayor Scott Gartner read at a meeting earlier this this month.
Little Bean Books opened in June in the historic downtown village, and one of the books it sells is a controversial coming-of-age autobiography, “Gender Queer: A Memoir.”
The controversy over parts of the novel, which sparked debate within the Antioch High School District 117 community earlier this year, has reignited again in recent weeks. The novel was criticized nationwide for depictions that some critics deemed inappropriate for young adults.
Antioch District 117 officials temporarily removed the novel from library shelves through a compromise, before reinstating it. Council members formally concluded that these content discussions should be led by parents and children, rather than decided by government entities.
Gartner said, “This is a private store and their inventory is constitutionally legal. We will not be bound by comments on social media platforms and book bans.
“The village has many projects that we are focusing on,” he added. “We have to represent everyone in the village.”
Feedback from residents at the village council meeting was overwhelmingly supportive of the bookstore.
“That shouldn’t even be up for debate,” said Nik Pierce. “It’s a public bookstore, and people should be allowed to choose any book without having to ask for it, or be forced to buy it online. We cannot censor life.
Lia Neveu added: “This store has every right to free speech.”
Sue Dickson said: “I like to think we’re a welcoming community. Our children deserve to be represented. We should support our children whether they are straight, gay or trans. We have to stop this. When our local businesses are attacked, that’s when I expect (the village) to stop it. »
However, referring to the content of the novel, Michael Mara referred to a village ordinance enacted in the late 1950s.
“I have no interest in banning the books,” he said. “I ask to enforce your own order… regarding illegal documents or (such) printed in view, in a place frequented by minors. Please respect your own prescription.
“If you want to change it, then change it,” he said.
The bookstore, at 875 Main Street, is an annex of the Little Bean Coffee Company, at 395 Main Street. Both companies are owned by Angela Burns and follow the same “non-discrimination” policy.
“I am very grateful for the support from the community and the mayor,” Burns said. “As a bookseller, it is important to offer titles that broaden our vision of the world, carrying various authors, various voices.
“Little Bean Coffee Company has been a safe space for everyone for four years,” she said. “Little Bean Books is committed to the same promise. Representation matters.