Small town library defunded after anti-LGBTQ+ backlash. Residents stepped up to save it
A small town has rallied around to save a library facing closure after funding was cut amid an anti-LGBTQ+ backlash.
Patmos Library in Hudsonville, Michigan had 84 per cent of its annual budget – amounting to $245,000 – slashed in a vote following an anti-LGBTQ+ backlash.
According to NBC News, the library came under fire when a group of local parents protested over the availability of LGBTQ+ books.
One of the books which reportedly sparked the backlash was Gender Queer: A Memoir, which recounts Maia Kobabe’s “aching journey toward reconciliation with being non-binary and asexual”. The book was the number one most-banned book in the United States between July 1, 2021 and March 31, 2022.
Primary voters subsequently rejected a proposal to renew tax funds for the library, which serves communities in Jamestown Township and the surrounding area.
Larry Walton, the Patmos Library’s board president, told Bridge Michigan: “The library is the centre of the community… For individuals to be short-sighted to close that down over opposing LGBTQ+ is very disappointing.”
Soon after the local library was defunded, a GoFundMe was created by resident Jesse Dillman in order to attempt to keep it open.
So far, it has raised over $120,000 to help keep the library afloat.
Dillman said in the fundraiser: “I am very passionate about this, and I have people that are behind me to do this.
“I think I have to do it now, because the iron is hot. If this is going to happen, it’s going to happen now.”
LGBTQ+ books banned in school libraries across America
LGBTQ+ authors dominated PEN America‘s list of most-banned books in school libraries and classrooms from 2021 and 2022.
PEN America’s study found that 1,145 unique book titles were affected by banning, and that books dealing with LGBT+ topics or with queer protagonists were most often affected.
“Titles that deal explicitly with LGBTQ+ topics, or have LGBTQ+ protagonists or prominent secondary characters have been a major target in the current wave of book bans,” the organisation wrote.
This week, newly-elected district attorney in Tennessee, Coty Wamp, said that she would consider prosecuting educators who stock LGBTQ+ books in libraries.
Though she later denied saying she would prosecute a librarian or teacher for stocking queer books in their schools, she said in a video that some LGBTQ+ books contribute to “delinquency” in children.
“I think that there’s going to come a time in some of these books where it crosses a criminal line,” Wamp said in the video.
“It’s called contributing to the delinquency of a minor.”
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