Heartstopper books pulled into absurd anti-LGBTQ+ library battle

Heartstopper characters Nick and Charlie hold each other as they enjoy a day at the beach in an episode of the Netflix series

Two volumes from the beloved Heartstopper graphic novel series are at the centre of a battle to get a Michigan library defunded over LGBTQ+ books. 

A group called Jamestown Conservatives have led a successful crusade to defund the Patmos Library in Jamestown Township, Michigan over the library’s inclusion of books with LGBTQ+ themes. 

The books included two books from Alice Oseman’s amazing Heartstopper series, The Breakaways by Cathy G Johnson, Tillie Walden’s graphic novel memoir Spinning and Colleen A F Venable’s Kiss Number 8.  

Jamestown resident Dean Smith claimed the books were explicit and wanted to keep them out of the hands of children, CBS News reported. 

“Community standards in Jamestown are not the same as in New York, LA or even in Grand Rapids,” he said. “We don’t want any sexually or violently graphic material on display for kids to see when they come in the library.”

Library board president Larry Walton felt it was “heartbreaking to be associated with this situation” and said the right-wing movement was censoring inclusive books. 

“I feel like we’ve kind of stepped back in time, talking about book banning,” Walton said. 

The Heartstopper graphic novels formed the basis for the critically-acclaimed Netflix series, which became a global phenomenon after it debuted on the streaming platform earlier this year. 

The smash-hit series has been praised by fans and politicians for its beautiful storytelling as well as heartwarming LGBTQ+ representation. 

Heartstopper has been heralded as one of the most important LGBTQ+ TV shows in a generation and has helped an entire countless queer youth feel seen through the media they consume

Conservatives have used book banning as a weapon to crack down on LGBTQ+ content in libraries and schools. A study found four in 10 (41 per cent) books banned in US schools during the 2021-22 school year contained LGBTQ+ themes or characters.  

The report, published by PEN America, identified at least 50 groups actively pushing for book bans in US schools and libraries. These parent and community groups played a role in at least half of the 2,532 instances of individual book bans enacted in the last school year. 

Voters in Jamestown Township rejected a measure during the primary elections in August to renew a property tax that funds the library because of the battle against LGBTQ+ books on shelves

The vote decimated the library’s 2023 operating budget as 84 per cent of its $245,000 budget comes from property taxes, Bridge Michigan reported. As a result, Walton projected that the library would likely run out of money sometime in late 2023.

Residents will be asked to decide on the funding and ultimately the fate of the library in another election in November.