Thousands raised to replace LGBT books burned by evangelical Christian

After a man filmed himself burning a library’s LGBT+ children’s books, the internet has raised more than $3,000 to replace them.

Paul Dorr, a fundamentalist Christian, uploaded a video to Facebook Live on October 19 in which he burned a string of LGBT-inclusive books from the library in Orange City, Iowa, which has a population of 6,004.

The library did not immediately confirm whether the books—which included young adult novel Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan and illustrated LGBT+ history book This Day in June by Gayle Pitman—would be replaced following the incident.

However, activists online have raised more thousands of dollars to help the library buy replacements in the wake of the news coverage.

Paul Dorr filmed himself burning Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan

A Facebook fundraiser launched by Justin Scott, the Iowa state director of American Atheists, has crowdfunded $1,321 to help “fill the Orange City Library with even more books that celebrate the life experiences and contributions of LGBTQ+ people.”

Separate fundraisers on GoFundMe have raised a further $2,300 to supply LGBT+ books to libraries across the US after the incident, making a total of $3,621.

Scott said in a Facebook post: “I’m thinking Paul Dorr would have been better off keeping his homophobia and transphobia to himself.

“Look at the outpouring of support—from Christians, atheists and everyone in between—that the LGBTQ+ community has received as a result of his disgusting stunt.”

Paul Dorr burned Families, Families, Families! by Suzanne Lang.

Dorr has said he has no intention of paying for the books he destroyed. He has several weeks to pay a library fine, but could be charged with fifth-degree misdemeanour theft if he does not.

The charge comes with a maximum sentence of 30 days in jail and a $625 fine.

In Dorr’s Facebook Live video, he said: “I cannot stand by and let the shameful adults at the Orange City Library Board bring the next group of little children into their foul, sexual reality without a firm resistance.”

Dorr expressed the belief that people become gay because of “the harm that adults did to you as children” and urges LGBT+ people to “walk away from your degeneracy… repent and turn back to Christ.”

The burning books

Levithan’s Two Boys Kissing was ranked as the fifth most-banned book during the American Library Association’s annual Banned Books Week in 2016.

There have been renewed attacks on LGBT+ content in US public libraries in recent months.

In September, Rumford Public Library in Maine faced pressure to ban LGBT+ books including Two Boys Kissing from its display of frequently-banned books, after evangelicals claimed they were inappropriate for children.

Also in September, anti-LGBT activists filed a lawsuit against Lafayette Library in Louisiana for holding a Drag Queen Story Time event to promote inclusion.

A similar lawsuit was filed against Houston Public Library in Texas on October 19.