After a battle over LGBT-themed books with explicit illustrations, residents of Jamestown Township, Michigan, voted overwhelmingly not to renew a property tax mile that helped fund their public library.
Over 60% of Jamestown voters voted “no” on Tuesday to a 10-year renewal and mileage increase for the Patmos local library. Some 3,000 people, representing a third of the township’s population, took part in the election.
Most of the library’s $245,000 annual budget comes from the now defeated mileage, which means that, according to Library Board Chairman Larry Walton, Patmos will run out of money by early 2023. It also means that residents will not see their property taxes increase. by $24.
walton said Michigan Bridge that he “didn’t expect” the battle over LGBT-themed graphic books to end like this, saying it was “very disappointing” that people were “myopic” closing the library because of these documents.
Jamestown resident Sarah Johnson told the outlet after casting her vote for library funding: ‘We’re all for the library. I use it. We want to make a statement that we want some to have a say in the books.
According to Bridge Michigan, a parent complained earlier this year about the inclusion of Maia Kobabe’s “Gender Queer: A Memoir” on Patmos. The graphic novel depicts a variety of sexual acts, including the author’s self-proclaimed non-binary sexual experiences. When asked to remove “Gender Queer” from circulation, the library board instead put it behind the counter so children wouldn’t encounter it.
Residents of Jamestown also reportedly took issue with some other titles, including “Spinning,” a graphic novel about a teenage lesbian skater, and “Kiss Number 8,” a graphic novel with similar gay themes. Despite popular demand for their removal, the council insisted on keeping these books in the young adult section.
Patmos Library could not immediately be reached for comment.
Nathan Triplett, president of the Michigan chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), praised Patmos for refusing to “yield to the demands” of people whose taxpayer dollars support the operation of the library.
“It is a credit to the staff and management of Patmos Library for steadfastly refusing to give in to demand that they purge their collection of LGBTQ materials. We need more courage and determination today ‘today,” Triplett wrote on Twitter, in response to a post from the national ACLU regarding what he called “censorship” in school and public libraries.
Progressive activists have denounced “censorship” when concerned parents seek transparency about what their children are exposed to and challenge sexually explicit books in classrooms or libraries.
In Virginia, under a new policy (pdf) which is to be released under Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin’s administration, schools must alert parents to any “sexually explicit content” and post all materials used for lessons and curriculum on the school’s website at least 30 days before the start of these courses. The policy states that it is designed to help parents make education-related decisions that are consistent with their own “customs, beliefs and values.”
The ACLU says such a policy “will lead to censorship in the classroom.”
“As written, the proposed model policies codify and compel all Virginia school districts to adopt this anti-free speech practice and will only exacerbate an alarming trend of classroom censorship, while denying students the opportunity to be inspired by stories of people from all walks of life. of life by trying to live authentically in the school curriculum,” the Virginia Chapter of the ACLU said.