Republican lawmakers freak out over library’s LGBT book display

Jeff Taylor

Two Republican North Dakota legislators criticized a local library for having the audacity to display and promote books acknowledging that LGBTQ people exist without putting hateful propaganda alongside of it.

West Fargo Public Library shared a display of the LGBT books, along with one of books by prominent writers of color, to its Facebook page earlier this month, in anticipation of the Fargo-Moorhead Pride celebration, held Aug. 10-13, Infoforum reports.

Republican Reps. Christopher Olsen and Ben Koppelman weren’t having it.

The books included Eminent Outlaws: The Gay Writers Who Changed America, Beyond Trans: Does Gender Matter?, Mick: The Wild Life and Mad Genius of Mick Jagger, and Mind of an Outlaw, an essay collection by Norman Mailer.

“I find it very surprising that the West Fargo Public Library would choose to showcase a display promoting these types of materials regarding human sexuality,” Olson said. He contacted West Fargo Library Director Sandra Hannahs to say he was unhappy with this situation.

Meanwhile, Koppleman contacted West Fargo City Commissioner Duane Hanson to express his concerns.

While the library defended its choice as “not intended to judge or promote, simply to respond to the needs and interests of West Fargo residents,” Hannahs weakly buckled and added that it was “insensitive of us to post an announcement on Facebook in which we referred to patrons to the display for a ‘great read’ for the end of summer” due to the “conservative mindset of the city.”

And this is how cities wake up and become more affirming, especially for the young queer people stuck growing up there.

The library has also removed the sign promoting them as “great summer reads,” due to the backlash. The post remains on Facebook, however.

Koppleman and Olsen instead want to fill kids’ heads with nonsense, it seems:

Both Koppelman and Olson felt the display lacked balance because it didn’t include any books that were critical of LGBT lifestyles or questioned their scientific validity. Library officials may have not intended to promote LGBT lifestyles, Olson said, but that was the end result because the display excluded alternative views on the subjects.

“The actual content of the promoted material is, at its very heart, promotional of an ideology of sexual fluidity, promiscuity, experimentation and deviation,” Olson said.

Olson also feels the display was inappropriate because it would be seen by children visiting the library. He has five children himself, ranging in age from 4 to 14.

“With my children, we’ve discussed these issues,” he said. “But there are many people who haven’t. I think it’s very unfortunate that this topic is being pushed into the face of 5-6-7-year-old kids. That’s a real tragedy.”

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