SC council considers LGBT-themed books in children’s library

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For now, the books remain.

Greenville County Council, in a procedural vote, declined to tell the Greenville County Library to remove books dealing with LGBTQ topics from the children’s sections of its 12 sites.

The board voted 3-9 against suspending the rules to consider a resolution from Councilman Joe Dill that would have ordered the library system to do so.

The council chambers were full; fierce public comment, both for and against Dill’s resolution.

The entire 30 minutes set aside for public comment was taken up with the topic. Council chairman Willie Meadows has repeatedly threatened to expel people for speaking or clapping.

The Bible was brought up on both sides.

At one point, library board vice-chairman Sid Cates, a former Greenville council adviser, was called out by a speaker for saying “vomit” after another speaker identified himself. as gay.

The books in question, written for children, were described as pornographic on the one hand and therapeutic on the other.

Ashley Snelgrove, children’s librarian at the Greenville County Library, spoke out against the resolution, saying children under 11 are not allowed to be unsupervised in the library and that the selection of books, in particular concerning sexuality, is “never taken lightly”.

Barbara Evans, a parent of the Taylors, said, “I can’t even believe we’re having this conversation. Of course, we shouldn’t have sexual material in our children’s library. »

She added: “It’s not about hate.”

Another woman said she was there to represent “the most high God Jesus Christ” to say that pornography harms adults and even more so children.

Susan Ward, who said one of her sons is gay, said books with gay themes are important to help children find their place in the world.

“We all worry about our children,” she said. “I worry because my child has been the victim of hate and discrimination.”

James Dodson, who has said he is gay, said the library was his childhood refuge and wondered when people would respond to others with love and basic dignity.

“We’re not leaving just because you hate us,” he said.

When it came time for the board members to intervene, Councilman Butch Kirvin said, even before Dill could explain his resolution, that the library board should be allowed to do its job.

Dill replied that his resolution was to support the library board.

Several members avoided council micromanagement, noting the number of councils and commissions the county has.

Councilor Dan Tripp wondered why this issue was happening now and asked Dill if he had promised people he was “going out in a blaze of glory”. Dill was defeated in the Republican primary by newcomer Benton Blount, who faces no opposition in Tuesday’s election.

Dill denied saying that.

Tripp said he has two young children and believes parents need to take responsibility for what their children see.

No specific book was mentioned by board members, but Ward, president of PFLAG Greenville, identified “I love you, Violet” like “don’t hurt anyone”. The book is described by Library Journal as a story of early friendships and early crushes.

Councilor Lynn Ballard said he visited two branches to examine the books in question. He said he saw nothing of concern and called the resolution unnecessary. The choice of books is the responsibility of the library board.

library board Vice Chairman Cates, who spoke during the public comment period, said he supported Dill’s resolution and promised the board would do its job. He said the council reviewed 24 books on Tuesday and would make recommendations on their fate. He declined to name any of the books

The question was raised by the Greenville County Republican Party in September. Greenville County GOP Chairman Jeff Davis said at the time that the party was not asking to ban the books, but to keep them out of reach of children, who could be “indoctrinated” by their contents.

He said the local GOP voted unanimously to request that the material be removed from children’s areas. Their concerns were heightened when the Greenville County Library System featured an LGBTQ-themed book display at several branches during Pride Month in June, he said.

This story was originally published November 2, 2022 11:10 a.m.

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