Tensions have been running high in a rural Iowa town after its local library displayed a children’s book about the slain. gay rights advocate Harvey Milksparked a nasty campaign involving homophobic letters posted on officials’ doors and a controversial town meeting with baseless accusations of child abuse.
The rage began when the Logan Public Library introduced a children’s book Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag by Rob Sanders for Pride Month in June. The seemingly innocuous screen sparked an anti-LGBTQ+ battle for some Logan residents.
Homophobic letters began appearing on the doors of the residences of library council members and town officials, including Mayor Clint McDonald, Logan City Clerk Marilyn Keizer told The Daily Beast on Thursday. Three.
The five-page letter, obtained by The Daily Beast, reads: “Consider the consequences of your decision to display this book… The American Library Association clearly has an agenda to promote. same-sex ideas… There are no resources on dismantling the gay lifestyle—just mocking them. “
The letter also reiterates common misconceptions that homosexuality is linked to pedophilia, same-sex relationships, promiscuity and causes of mood and anxiety disorders, and with pictures from an hour story of the queen pulling children at an unspecified library.
Then in a August 10 Facebook postthe library was forced to push back against rapidly spreading rumors about the library’s alleged agenda.
“We have NO PLAN to hold ‘Drag Queen Story Time’ or any related shows. We never had,” the post read. “We have added NO DOCUMENTATION related to LGBTQIA+ specific topics or gender identity related topics since our current director took over her position.”
Logan Public Library director Kate Simmons said the book Harvey Milk had been in the library since 2018 without objection before June.
“The reality of what is happening in our town is that a lot of lies and rumours and gossip have gotten out of hand,” she told The Daily Beast on Tuesday. “Public forums are about giving people a chance to speak their mind.”
That public forum took place Monday night at the library board’s regular meeting, and locals couldn’t help voicing their opinions.
Former Logan Public Library director Jennifer Joy Andregg, who resigned on July 9 for unclear reasons, has asked the library to change the way it targets books to children, a move she feel will help ensure the safety of children.
Other members of the community echoed Andregg’s sentiments as well.
“I think we have to distinguish between having resources available (LGBTQ+) and promoting them,” said one community member. local store KETV Omaha. “And when you put something in a prominent place in the library, you’re advertising it.”
Another community member argued that the promotion of some books was not dependent on libraries. “It’s a slippery slope,” the person said. “And I believe you can read whatever you want to read, that’s okay, but that’s the role of the parent.”
But local author Kailee Coleman protested the call for censorship, telling attendees she wrote her children’s book. And that’s their family! to teach children about diverse families such as families with two mothers or two fathers, or children raised by grandparents, stepparents, adoptive parents, or aunts and uncles.
In one “Phoebe from Friend“ Sort of, the book started out as a song she posted on TikTok, Coleman later told The Daily Beast. But she says she soon realized the need to widen the conversation about integrating into her small Iowa town, which she says tends to operate in a self-contained thought bubble. .
“It was a song I wrote… to teach my preschool kids about different family structures because we’re in rural Iowa,” Coleman said. “And we don’t see all kinds of diversity.”
Following Monday’s board meeting, Andregg posted a video on Facebook asking the library to ban children’s shows that drag queens or “sexually-focused children’s screens” and suggested a policy on the priority books should be ordered for the library.
In the video, she appears to have equated drag queens with sex offenders and alludes to members of the LGBTQ+ community suffering from mental disorders.
“The whole point of this policy is that we don’t want things to slip by us, things that the board of directors would never approve of,” she said before recalling the horror of one person. Ask about the sexual orientation of a 13-year-old girl. kid.
“Basically, the saying ‘Who do you want to have intercourse with? ,” says Andregg, minimizing the concept of sexual identity. “I don’t want my 13-year-old to ask that question. And then when she didn’t know, they called her asexual, and she wasn’t. She is a normal, healthy child. “
Andregg did not mention the removal of Harvey Milk children’s books or what is considered appropriate reading material for children in a comment emailed to The Daily Beast on Tuesday. Instead, she commented on an unrelated proposal she mentioned in a board meeting about improving the library’s book collection process.
Simmons told The Daily Beast that the library was not intended to hold an hour long and most residents’ concerns about LGTBQ+ material were completely blown away. She said there was also a process to challenge library books.
“To request deletion or any changes… there is a form. … It aligns with the library’s mission and our collection policy,” said Simmons.
She said a form must be submitted for a book to be challenged, the board reviews the book, the complainants have the opportunity to explain their disagreement with the book, and then the panel will vote for it.
As of Tuesday, the children’s book Harvey Milk has not been removed from the Logan Public Library.
“The library board decided more than a month before the meeting that they would follow the law and keep the book,” Andregg said.