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See Meeting Agenda HERE.
See Meeting Minutes HERE.
Hear the Meeting Audio HERE.
At the November Meeting of the LPL Board of Control, the full board heard a Reconsideration appeal of This Book is Gay, by Juno Dawson. The original Request for Reconsideration had been filed by Michael Lunsford, a local paid political operative from neighboring St. Martin Parish. Both librarians on the reconsideration committee had voted to keep the title in the library's collection; the board member assigned to the committee, Stephanie Armbruster, voted to remove it. Armbruster opened discussion of the book at November's board meeting by calling the book "disturbing," "explicit," and saying that it promoted "exploitation." She also said that she felt its discussion of dating apps placed LGBTQ youth in danger.
Local residents, who once again filled the meeting room to capacity, had a different opinion. Over thirty speakers signed in to comment on the book, and every single person spoke in favor of keeping the book on the library's shelves and in the collection. Every speaker spoke out against censorship in our community. Many were members of the LGBTQ community, and said that books such as This Book is Gay were vital to teens who needed to see themselves represented in our public library.
At the end of the public comment period, board President Robert Judge continued the board's discussion of the book by reading several passages from it (notable to him for their criticism of Christianity, though the author included the information because of how Christians sometimes treat members of the LGBTQ community). He then somehow felt it necessary to read the scientific definition of penis from a medical textbook. This, ostensibly, was to illustrate the fact that the book used slang terminology and was not, in fact, a medical textbook. (No one had claimed it to be.)
The final result was a compromise proposed by library Director Danny Gillane: that the entire Teen Non-Fiction section be incorporated into the Adult Non-Fiction section. In a sense, it was a Pyrrhic victory: the book stayed on the shelves, but teens, and, in particular, LGBTQ teens in our community, no longer have a non-fiction section to call their own. Now they must trek to another floor, among adults who may be decades older than themselves, to find books with kids who look and feel as they do. Will they do so now that it is more difficult? Only time will tell. We take our small victories where we can get them these days.
Local news coverage of the meeting can be found HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE.
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