A public library in Iowa is reviewing policies on including LGBTQ literature after more than 340 residents petitioned to stop the acquisition of books that explore gender identity and sexual orientation.
The Sioux City Journal reports that at the Orange City Public Library’s Board of Trustees meeting on Tuesday, about 10 residents spoke on behalf of including such books, while around the same number opposed expanding access to LGBTQ books.
According to petition founder Terry Chi, a former library board member who teaches psychology at Northwestern College, in the library’s collection of over 63,000 works, 168 deal with LGBTQ themes—and apparently that’s 168 too many. “We’re not asking for banning because I know that would just sink our ship,” Chi told the Sioux City Journal. “We’re asking for transparency in the process and some public conversation before new materials are acquired.”
Rev. Sacha Walicord, a pastor who spoke out against the inclusion of more LGBTQ books, agrees: “As a congregation, I would have to say we are shocked that tax money is being used to push this agenda even further,” he said.
But what horrible things do Orange City residents think will happen making books dealing with gay, lesbian, transgender, and queer identity more accessible? According to the Journal:
The board next month will also take up an individual challenge brought against library’s inclusion of the children’s book “Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress,” which features a boy whose classmates don’t understand why he enjoys wearing a dress. That challenge was not discussed Tuesday.
While the library has not formalized a response yet, the Orange City Public Library follows guidelines adopted from the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights that states materials cannot be removed on basis of sex or gender and should “not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.” This seems pretty clear cut, but in the meantime, Dan Chibnall, president-elect of the Iowa Library Association, offered a diplomatic response, saying, “We believe people should have access to as much material as possible, and it’s up to them as a community to decide what they should read and what they should and should not read with their families.”
Orange City resident Mike Goll best explained why LGBTQ books (like pride parades!) are so important. “There are gay kids, there are trans kids in this town,” he said, “and seeing their faces and seeing their lives mirrored in some of the books here means everything.”