Hundreds of anti-LGBTQ+ protesters hijack school board meeting demanding queer book ban

An image from Twitter shows protestors in the Dearborn School Board Meeting

A school board meeting erupted as hundreds of anti-LGBTQ+ protesters brought proceedings to a halt.

A board meeting of Michigan’s Dearborn Public Schools on Monday (12 October) was interrupted by protesters who wanted LGBTQ+ books kept out of schools.

Tensions have risen in the city of Michigan in the past few months over LGBTQ+ books in public school libraries. Various anti-LGBTQ+ groups have been advocating for their removal, including at a similar protest on 25 September, which saw groups outside the Henry Ford Centennial Library chant homophobic rhetoric.

So far, six books have been banned in public libraries, but this apparently wasn’t enough enough for protesters who held signs saying “protect our children, “quit grooming students” and “stop brainwash our children”.

Hundreds of protesters attended the school board meeting, USA Today reported. They belonged to several factions and shouted over each other for attention, occasionally interrupting the board as it attended other matters.

Things spiralled out of control after one of the board members made a remark about public commentators speaking outside time limits, as well as the lack of civility shown by the group.

Board chair Roxanne McDonald told protesters that while she welcomed members of the public making statements, she didn’t want to hear people make “baseless and slanderous remarks”.

This failed to get through to the crowd, who continually interjected when told that some members of the group needed to leave due to fire code regulations.

After a while, Dearborn police chief Issa Shahin arrived and told protesters not to embarrass the city.

“Let’s have respect for each other,” Shahin said. “We can have a spirited debate, but we can’t conduct ourselves this way, guys, we just can’t. We’re better than this. Dearborn is better than this.”

Board members then decided to call an early recess and leave the building after protesters refused to leave for exceeding fire safety capacity.

“We’re going to send a message to the board of education,” one protestor said. “We the people… put you in this positon. We put you on the chair. We elected you.”

Controversy surrounding LGBTQ+ books

Books featuring LGBTQ+ topics have become increasingly controversial in certain parts of the US as of late.

Several groups, often religious, have called for the removal of queer literature from public libraries for various homophobic reasons, including claims that they somehow harm children.

On 28 September, a woman claiming to “speak on behalf of God” began protesting against LGBTQ+ literature in a Tennessee library, saying that they are “devices of Satan”.

Almost half of books banned in US schools in the past year contained LGBTQ+ themes or characters, a PEN America report found.