Residents of a town in western Michigan have overwhelmingly voted to not renew a property tax millage that has helped fund their public library following a battle over LGBT-themed books with explicit illustrations.
More than 60 percent of Jamestown Township voters voted “no” on Aug. 2 to a 10-year millage renewal and a tax increase for the local library. Roughly 3,000 people, representing a third of the township’s population, participated in the election.
The bulk of the library’s $245,000 annual budget comes from the now-defeated millage, which means that the Patmos Library will run out of money in early 2023, according to library board President Larry Walton. It also means that residents won’t have their property taxes raised by $24.
Walton told Bridge Michigan that he “wasn’t expecting” the battle over graphic LGBT-themed books to end the way it did, saying it was “very disappointing” for people to be “short-sighted” in closing the library over those materials.
“We’re all for the library. I use it,” Jamestown resident Sarah Johnson told the media outlet after voting to defund the library. “We want to make a statement that we want some say in the books.”
According to Bridge Michigan, a parent complained earlier this year about the library’s inclusion of Maia Kobabe’s “Gender Queer: A Memoir.” The book depicts a variety of sexual acts, including the self-described nonbinary author’s sexual experiences. When asked to take “Gender Queer” out of circulation, the library board instead put it behind the counter so that children wouldn’t be able to access it.
Jamestown residents also reportedly took issue with some other titles, including “Spinning,” a graphic novel about a teenage lesbian skater, and “Kiss Number 8,” a graphic novel with similar homosexual themes. Despite popular demand for their removal, the board insisted on keeping those books in the young adult section.
Progressive activists have decried “censorship” when concerned parents seek transparency in what their children are being exposed to and challenge sexually explicit books in classrooms or libraries.
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