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Protestors interrupt a Moms for Liberty’s “fascist” book banning meeting

A group of Moms for Liberty members
A group of Moms for Liberty members Photo: Screenshot

Protestors interrupted a recent meeting by a Howard County, Maryland chapter of the anti-LGBTQ+ “parents’ rights” group Moms for Liberty (M4L).

The chapter met at a local library to discuss plans for getting LGBTQ+-inclusive books banned from school libraries. The group’s chair, Lisa Geraghty, said she plans on continuing with the plan despite the protest.

On February 26, the M4L members met at the Howard Central Branch library in Columbia, The Baltimore Banner reported. Their guest speaker was Jessica Garland, an M4L member who led a successful monthslong campaign to get 56 allegedly “sexually explicit” books removed from nearby Carroll County public schools. Many of the removed books were written by queer people and authors of color.

An hour before the meeting, however, protesters crowded the library’s entryway, wearing rainbow-colored flower garlands, flags, and signs with messages that included “Books not bigots” and “Only fascists ban books.” One protestor who called himself “Rainbow Spartacus” wore a rainbow-colored Roman soldier outfit and a rainbow cape.

Protestors began filling the room’s seats, sitting on the floor, and standing against the walls. When Geraghty began the meeting by describing M4L as “nonpartisan and nonpolitical,” audience members chortled. The audience also began speaking over her after she said, “We equate social justice ideologies to a religion.” The audience erupted in disapproval when Garland told audience members, “You are the abnormal ones [for allowing your children to read sexually explicit books].”

For the rest of the meeting, while Garland explained her campaign to remove books, audience members interrupted with “heckles and jeers.” Garland’s M4L chapter reportedly flooded Carroll County’s school district with numerous challenges on books, leading the district to remove 56 books from local schools. The district also subsequently changed its book acquisition policies to make school librarians liable for any books containing “sexually explicit content.” Its librarians have called the plan untenable.

“We did not target homosexuals, we did not target heterosexuals, we did not target trans,” Garland said of her book-banning campaign. However, the removed books included George M. Johnson’s gay memoir All Boys Aren’t Blue as well as other books that included “sexual nudity; sexual activities including sexual assault; alternate gender ideologies; profanity and derogatory terms; alcohol and drug use” and “controversial racial commentary,” The Baltimore Banner noted.

One woman asked the M4L chapter members, “I was four years old when I was first sexually assaulted and wrote about it. Why do you think it’s OK to take my voice away?” The audience cheered, and Garland said that her organization wasn’t trying to take her voice away.

Nevertheless, the Howard County M4L chapter said it would first target high school books that Geraghty referred to as “pornography” and then challenge books discussing gender and sexuality.

The Howard County Public School District said it has no plans to remove any books from school shelves and will rely instead on its librarians and existing book selection processes to maintain age-appropriate reading materials on school bookshelves, said Jennifer Swickard Mallo, chair of the district’s school board.

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