OZARK, Ala. (WDHN) — Over 20 Dale County residents took the podium to voice whether they are for or against removing LGBTQ books and other explicit material from the shelves in the young adult section that ranges from ages 12-to 17.
This comes after Mayor Mark Blankenship received a message from a parent about how their child pointed out LGBTQ-themed books at the time in the library. After he inquired about getting them removed, it never happened since it was deemed age-appropriate. He recently took to social media to urge residents to contact their elected officials about the material in the library or the library will lose funding.
“I have read through these books; you can look at them online, and there is no way you can look at these books, and what Monica just read to you, it’s embarrassing we have that where a 12-year-old can read that stuff it’s crazy,” Mayor Blankenship said.
Currently, LGBTQ books make up less than 5% of the young adult section, which is 80 books out of more than 1,600.
Some residents who spoke in favor of the removal wanted the library to do away with the books in general. Ideally, they wanted to protect the children at least as many often eluded to their Christian beliefs.
“Children shouldn’t be reading these books at all or exposed to them because LGBTQ is an abomination of God,” One resident said.
“Books that are in this library with the LGBTQ sticker are placed in a children’s format to convince them something is good, and that is not acceptable,” Kevin Reynolds said.
“My preference would be to remove the books just like when our kids were young, we told them not to touch the stove. It’s hot, or you will get hurt,” Jim Hill said. “Just like the books, move them to a section that would be monitored. A 12-year-old is not a young adult.”
However, the age group is not defined by the library but by the American Library Association.
Those on the other side of the issue argued that local government leaders have no right to push their agenda by targeting and trying to silence certain groups of people or tell a parent what their child should or should not be exposed to. Instead, devise a solution to embrace the community, including those with different sexual orientations.
“Twilight is considered a young adult book, and it contains sex scenes; Harry Potter has witchcraft and torture, just like if you were taking your child to the movies, it’s labeled with a rating for a reason,” Alden Rocha said. “What someone reads does not make them what they are. I’m still a Christian, and even if it goes against your faith, no matter what your child will be exposed to at some point.”
“You’re robbing your citizens of freedom of choice. It’s my job to monitor my child, not yours,” Virginia Howard said.
“Libraries are supposed to be places where you can go and find different points of view,” Another resident said.
As for the library board, they cannot remove a book entirely or relocate one unless they follow proper procedures — they informed the residents of that procedure at the meeting.
Mayor Blankenship claims no one told him about a form, nor if the resident who complained signed it.
This form is for anyone who has a problem with a book that’s in a certain section a form must be filled out. Since the library opened, they just received the first two complaints this week regarding the explicit materials.
Adam Enfinger, a Dale County Commissioner, filed the complaint to get the material out of the young adult section.
“For there to only be two complaints in our history, this is sad,” Library Board Vice Chairman Mike Cairns said. I applaud Mr. Enfinger for doing it the right way. All you have to do is sign a form on our website about any issue you may have with a book, and it will be sent to a team of a high school teacher, professor, and attorney, and they will review it.”
The next library board meeting will be September 20th, and an attorney will have answers about what the library can do to comply with the community legally.