After a heated public debate, the Greenville County Council in South Carolina voted to keep LGBTQ books accessible to children at the public library.
A resolution from city Councilor Joe Dill – who recently lost the Republican primary and will not be maintaining his seat – proposed requiring the 12-location library system in the area to remove books “promoting sexuality” from all children’s sections.
The resolution claimed it was seeking to “protect the innocence of children” and also would have required libraries to submit a report to the County Council detailing “how such books ever found their way into the Children’s Sections…and what measures have been put into place to ensure such oversights do not occur in the future.”
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Controversy over LGBTQ books in the county began in September when the Greenville County GOP unanimously passed a resolution in favor of banning them from the children’s section of libraries.
The State reported at the time that the Greenville County GOP chair, Jeff Davis, said it was important to prevent kids from being “indoctrinated” by the books.
“Kids can’t buy a beer until they are 21. Should they be able to access these books before a certain age without parental consent? I think not and that should be reasonable,” he said.
The GOP became especially concerned in June when the library displayed LGBTQ books in honor of Pride Month.
Among the books they reportedly worried about was a book about a girl and her dads called Daddy & Dada; Teo’s Tutu, about a boy who does ballet; Pride Puppy, about a puppy who goes to a Pride Parade; and Sex is a Funny Word, a sex education book designed for kids that also teaches about different types of families.
During the recent county council debate, the council members did not mention any specific books, and impassioned pleas were made from people on both sides during the public comment period.
“I can’t even believe we’re having this conversation. Of course we shouldn’t have any sexual material in our children’s library,” said parent Barbara Evans, as reported by The State.
Susan Ward, the parent of a gay son, emphasized how important it is for her son to be able to see himself in books.
“All of us worry about our children. I worry because my child has been subjected to hate and discrimination,” she said.
The conversation reportedly got heated, with the vice chair of the library board – who supported keeping the books away from kids – even saying “barf” when someone said they were gay.
Ashley Snelgrove, a children’s librarian against banning the books, also spoke at the meeting and explained that the library already thinks very hard about what books are available to kids. Beyond that, Snelgrove said kids under 11 are always supervised at the library.
And in a 3-9 vote, LGBTQ equality won the day and the council voted to keep the books available to kids.