A library in Louisiana’s Lincoln Parish just yanked all books featuring LGBTQ characters and same-sex parents from their shelves and tucked them away after “more than a dozen” parents complained. Now, they’re only available by request. Read on for the full story.
Louisiana Library Removes LGBTQ Kids’ Books with Same-Sex Parents from Shelves
The Lincoln Parish Library tore multiple books with LGBTQ characters- including several featuring same-sex parents- off their shelves and tucked them away where no one can see them. Now, if anyone wants to check them out, they have to ask for them.
Their reasoning? According to the Ruston Daily Leader, Library Director Vivian McCain said that she and other members of the library’s Board received emails from ” more than a dozen patrons, all with identical verbiage, asking that ‘LGBTQ items’ be removed from the shelves and displays in the children’s department.
McCain caved to requests from board members and removed the books in question from view on the floor. However, she told the Ruston Daily Leader that she disagrees with the decision, saying,
“We’re here to serve everybody equally, no matter who they are. This goes against every grain in my body as a public librarian.”
Now, only adults can request and check out the books. Children can’t even ask for them or check them out with their own cards. The entire process is one step away from treating LGBTQ kids’ books like the “adult” section of a video store. Next, they’ll be handing the books over in a plain brown paper bag.
Dozens of complaint letters with exact same wording behind the removal
As mentioned above, the decision came after the library received dozens of emails and letters, all with the exact same wording. Wording included,
“…these items are unacceptable for viewing by children without their parents’ consent and input.
“Putting these questionable materials on display does not reflect the values of our community.”
Each missive also contained a thinly veiled threat- a reference to Saturday’s election, which included a question about approving library funding (in the form of property taxes).
After two board meetings, McCain was told to move the books and offer them by request only. One board member, David Gullatt, said of his decision,
“We did not feel that it would offend other parents to have (the books) on reserve for their approval. But we did feel that there were some parents who were offended that the books were there where the children could pick up something they wish they would not read at such an early age. So I think we took the path of less resistance.”
Another, Augusta Clark, essentially mimicked that party line, saying,
“We want to make sure people have access to the books in the library. But we thought it would be in the best interest to remove them off the shelves in the children’s department and make them available by request.”
McCain gave the Ruston Daily Leader a copy of the banned books, along with the library’s policy, which reads:
“The Lincoln Parish Library regards censorship as a purely individual matter and holds that while anyone is free to personally reject materials that they may consider offensive, one cannot exercise this right of censorship to restrict the freedom of others. Only parents and guardians have the right and responsibility to guide and direct the reading, listening, and viewing choices of their own minor children.”
As you can see, removing LGBTQ books featuring same-sex parents goes against the policy. It also goes against the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights, which expressly prohibits removing or limiting exposure to books simple because of “partisan or doctrinal disapproval/”
Books with Same-Sex Parents and LGBTQ Characters Top Banned Books Lists
In 2019, of the 600+ materials and books banned and challenged throughout the US, those featuring same-sex parents and LGBTQ characters top the list. Out of the top 10 challenged books, 8 center around an LGBTQ character. Number one on the list (and one of the first books removed by the Lincoln Parish Library) is George by Alex Gino, about a transgender girl. Another, Prince & Knight by Daniel Haack, was banned simply because it featured gay parents.
Libraries like that in Lincoln Parish that cave to pressure from a handful of homophobic patrons and remove LGBTQ books from their shelves aren’t just violating their own code of ethics, they’re doing an incredible disservice to children of gay and lesbian couples. Diversity in books is incredibly important, and not just in terms of promoting literacy. Children need – and deserve- to see themselves and their families reflecting in characters in their favorite stories.
What kind of message is Lincoln Parish sending to their youngest patrons by tearing books with characters like them and their family off the shelves? Tucking these tomes away and treating them as if they were no better than pornography tells children that their families are not “normal,” that they should be ashamed of their parents or themselves.
Someone should be ashamed, but it’s definitely not children of same-sex parents. Shame on the homophobic “patrons” who couldn’t even form a thought on their own and instead had to copy and paste a pre-written missive. Shame on the Lincoln Parish Library board members, like Augusta Clark and David Gullatt, for violating the Library Bill of Rights. Most of all, shame on everyone who plays a part in allowing a handful of close-minded individuals dictate what the rest of society can and cannot read.
Banning, challenging, and hiding books away is never acceptable. Banning children’s books featuring same-sex parents and LGBTQ characters isn’t just unacceptable, it’s downright harmful to kids who desperately need to see themselves and their families represented in their entertainment.
What are your thoughts on the Lincoln Parish Library hiding away books with LGBTQ characters and same-sex parents? Share below.
Olfa Turki is the founder, owner and managing editor of LoveYouWedding. She’s been called a “tornado” by her partner and those who work with her and for good reason! When she gets an idea in her head, nothing can stop her. She believes everyone should have access to the resources they need to plan their dream wedding, which is why she’s dedicated LoveYouWedding to helping LGBTQ+ couples.