In a direct response to their local library's acquiring and prominently displaying LGBTQ books and other materials, the citizens of Jamestown, Michigan, recently voted to defund the library.
The township's Patmos Library will lose 84% of its annual $245,000 budget after more than 62% of voters just refused to approve an annual property tax millage renewal for 2023. A millage is a percentage tax on property at its assessed value. The current millage is set to expire at the end of this year.
There was never any question on what the vote was about, local resident Jesse Dillman told MLive.
"I never saw any opposition to the actual dollar amount or taxes," said Dillman, who has started a campaign to fund the library. "It was 100% about the cultural issue of having LGBT material in the library."
Parents and other concerned residents began a campaign to stop the millage proposal after the library featured LGBTQ books as part of a Pride display during June. One of the books on display was the sexually explicit Gender Queer: A Memoir, a graphic novel explaining what it means to be nonbinary and asexual, according to WZZM-TV.
The conservative citizens claim the book, along with a few other LGBTQ+ themed books, were "grooming children for sexual exploitation," since they were easily available to kids.
The group asked the library staff to remove the books and the library's board refused. So, the group mounted a campaign against the millage in order to stop funding the library with taxpayer money.
Cody Newhouse, who voted against the millage, told WOOD-TV that even if books are placed in the adult section of the library, children still can access them.
"It's only the LGBTQ stuff that bothers me, with my kids in particular," Newhouse said. "If you're older, make your own decision, that's totally fine. But with the younger kids, I just believe it should be away from them."
Larry Walton, the library board's president told WOOD the library's Board of Trustees follows the Michigan Library Association's code of ethics. "We need to support First Amendment rights of freedom of speech," he said. "That factors into our decision-making, too. We can't have book bannings. We can't have book burnings."
According to Bridge Michigan, the library board decided Monday night to ask voters for funding for the second time in November.
If the millage request is defeated again in November, the library will likely close sometime in 2023, the outlet reported.
Meanwhile, other conservatives praised Jamestown's citizens for voting to protect their children.
"This was such a great story to see," Meg Kilgannon, Family Research Council's senior fellow for education studies, told The Washington Stand. "It captures the determination of citizens who are awake."
The vote also drew the attention of evangelist Franklin Graham who tweeted, "Concerned citizens in Jamestown, MI, decided they weren't going to stand for the indoctrination of their children at a local public library—& they weren't going to pay for it w/their taxpayer money! I congratulate them for standing firm w/their convictions."
Concerned citizens in Jamestown, MI, decided they weren't going to stand for the indoctrination of their children at a local public library—& they weren't going to pay for it w/their taxpayer money! I congratulate them for standing firm w/their convictions.https://t.co/o32DbrE0hm
— Franklin Graham (@Franklin_Graham) August 11, 2022
In a commentary published in The Washington Stand, Joshua Arnold pointed out that "the media, unilaterally decided several months ago that "groomer" was an "anti-LGBTQ slur" after parents have successfully and accurately employed the term to defend their young children against indoctrination in sexual perversion in a wide variety of contacts."
"But media attempts to smear parents have backfired because the parents are correct," Arnold noted. "Sexually explicit reading material is inappropriate for children, and it is inappropriate in a public library. And any library which promotes such content has forsaken its charge, not to mention the trust of the community."
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