From book bans to armed Proud Boys militia, US libraries bear the brunt of LGBT+ ‘culture wars’

WA group of children and their parents recently sat down for a “Drag Queen Storytime” event not far from Reno, Nevada, taking a little comfort in the presence of local police.

In the San Francisco Bay Area just two weeks earlier, men wearing Proud Boys uniforms entered the library to disrupt a similar LGBT+ reading event by hurling slurs about homosexuality. and homosexuality.

Similar episodes have recently occurred in South BendIndiana, and ForestCalifornia.

So when organizers of the Drag Queen Storytime event in Sparks, Nevada, an incorporated city east of Reno, began last Sunday – police were on the lookout for any signs of trouble.

Alarms went off when a man dressed in yellow and black from the Proud Boys militia arrived at the scene with a gun – sending children and their parents running for cover.

What should have been a celebration of all that LGBT+ is all about turned out to be another example of how US libraries are on the front lines of so-called “culture wars” and resistance. LGBT+ of the United States.

In an email to The IndependentChildren’s author Joanna McClintick says those behind recent library protests want to remove LGBT+ people from all public spaces and are using “groomed” insults as a way of choosing. Choose a weapon.

In Sparks, one of the many banners held by protesters read: “Drag Queens home. Leave our kids alone.”

“The politicians and activists behind the recent attacks are trying to remove LGBTQ+ people and families from public spaces,” McClintick said. “And they’re doing it by saying that anyone who disagrees with them is a threat to children.”

Protesters outside Sparks Library in Nevada clash with LGBT+ supporters


The claim that gay men are “slanderers” – a slur that was even thrown into Disney World after the company advocated for LGBT+ rights in Florida earlier this year – has been posted on social media. social media.

McClintick, whose book’Twas the Night Before Pride has been advocated by LGBT+ families, saying that in contrast, gay children find affirmative literature essential to their personal development.

“As a gay parent and author, and as someone whose career has been dedicated to working with and for LGBTQ+ people, I have witnessed firsthand the positive, realistic expressions of LGBTQ+ people. How LGBTQ+ identity can prevent feelings of isolation among young gay and transgender people,” she said.

McClintick added that reading and viewing LGBT+ material can also increase acceptance by non-LGBT+ people.

“The right to exist, to assemble, to express oneself freely whether verbally or in attitude, to assemble as a community and to respect one another,” said Sam Kiley-LaRoche of the LGBT Community Center in New York. honor who we are in the constitution,” said Sam Kiley-LaRoche of the LGBT Community Center in New York The Independent.

“People who have problems with gays and transgender people don’t have to attend, don’t have to walk into the public library; they are welcome at home and do not participate. Your attendance at Pride is optional. “

For McClintick, the fact that the Drag Queen timeline events are targeted during Pride Month shows that for LGBT+ people, visibility isn’t enough to guarantee acceptance or safety.

“Clearly, this disturbing trend is showing us that visibility doesn’t equate to safety and acceptance,” she said. “And while the people who would ban books, threaten others with their existence in public spaces, or support censorship are in the minority, they are certainly very vocal.”

A poster of the Drag Queen saga in Sparks, Nevada


Not far from the LGBT Community Center, where both McClintick and Kiley-LaRoche host an Instagram live event This week on the importance of gay literature for children, a New York library was recently forced to make a drastic turn to the LGBT+ ban.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul ordered an investigation into a library in Smithtown, on Long Island, after a board voted to remove the Pride displays and books. The New York Library Association (NYLA) also condemn The Smithtown Library Board removes and displays LGBT+ books.

“This ban on any Pride-related exhibits sets a dangerous precedent for libraries across the state as it normalizes teen victimization,” the NYLA said. LGBTQ+ in their schools and communities, this has dire consequences,” the NYLA said in a statement last month.

The association cited mental health concerns among LGBT+ youth and that, according to the Trevor Project, up to 40% of the group had considered suicide by 2020. About half of LGBT students + in New York schools meanwhile experienced discrimination in some form, the NYLA said.

“For many LGBTQ+ teens, libraries are the only safe, affirming, and friendly space during the formative years of their personal development. Libraries, for our LGBTQ+ youth,” the association continued. “(The Library) is the first place they see exactly who they are without retaliation.”

AnnaLeeDragon, executive director of NYLA, said in an email sent The Independent that the Smithtown incident “triggered a larger conversation about the growing threat to the annulment of intellectual freedom and the right to read.”

“We will therefore continue to hold library boards accountable for upholding these fundamental and core values ​​in libraries across the state, and to depend on their expertise and profession. librarians and their librarians,” she said.

In other states, such as Texas, young people are less fortunate with LGBT+ titles being censored and reports of school administrators stripping anything strange on library shelves that aren’t genuine. rare.

When asked what more could be done after a series of book bans and protests at events during Drag Queen’s story, McClintick said LGBT+ people and their supporters need to be louder than others. right – and importantly, be active in the fight against homophobia, agoraphobia and other discrimination.

“So we also need to speak up! Go to your library and request books on LGBTQ+ identification. Talk about it in school. Read to your child,” she said. “If you’re nervous, there’s actually a lot that you can do right now.”

Kiley-LaRoche agrees, saying recent threats and aggression need to be put into context.

“They are not new. They are part of a long history of far-right discrimination and misinformation targeting LGBTQ+ people by falsely claiming our identities are a threat to children,” they said. “The fact that we are seeing its resurgence today is cause for serious concern and action.”

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