News (USA)

Anti-LGBTQ+ Moms for Liberty wins $70K in settlement after library kicked them out

Sophia Lorey speaking at the Yolo County library last August.
Sophia Lorey speaking at the Yolo County library last August. Photo: Screenshot

Yolo County, California, has agreed to settle a lawsuit brought by Moms for Liberty after staff at a local library shut down a forum the anti-LGBTQ+ “parents’ rights” group was hosting last summer.

In August 2023, the Yolo County Moms for Liberty chapter held a “Forum on Fair and Safe Sports for Girls” at the Mary L. Stephens branch of the Yolo County Library in Davis, California. During the first presentation, former collegiate athlete Sophia Lorey referred to “men” playing on girls’ sports teams, eliciting audible reactions from people in the audience.

After Lorey, who is now outreach director at the conservative Christian advocacy group California Family Council, repeated herself, a library staff member warned she would be asked to leave if she continued to “misgender people throughout the entire meeting.”

The staffer explained to one of the forum’s moderators that “California state law recognizes trans women as women” and that the library’s policies require people to be treated with respect. “If you are misgendering somebody, that is not respectful,” the staffer said.

Lorey continued to refer to trans women as “biological men,” at which point the branch manager ended the presentation and asked her to leave, the Sacramento Bee notes.

Notably, the library had to be evacuated the next day after it received a bomb threat via a phone call from someone spewing anti-LGBTQ+ hate speech. The threat came just hours after anti-trans activist Riley Gaines posted the branch’s phone number on social media, instructing her followers “to do their thing.”

In December, the anti-LGBTQ+ hate group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) and the Institute for Free Speech filed a lawsuit against the county on behalf of the Yolo County Moms for Liberty chapter and the California Family Council. They alleged the library violated the group’s rights to free speech, arguing that while staff “are not required to agree with plaintiffs’ views,” the First Amendment “requires that [they] allow plaintiffs to speak freely about the integrity of female athletics in library meeting rooms.”

As part of the settlement, Yolo County officials agreed to pay Moms for Liberty $70,000 in damages plus legal fees and to update the library’s policies to ensure staff “shall not interfere with presentations or other speech by individuals or groups that have reserved meeting rooms, based on the content of such speech,” the Sacramento Bee reported earlier this week.

Both Lorey and an ADF spokesperson continued to spew anti-trans rhetoric in their responses to the settlement Tuesday.

“Women have the right to speak about their concerns regarding men competing in their sports, and public officials have a constitutional duty to uphold that right regardless of whether they agree with the point of view presented,” ADF Senior Counsel Tyson Langhofer said in a statement.

“I simply acknowledged that men are playing in women’s sports, making it harder for girls to achieve their dreams,” Lorey said. “I am grateful that Yolo County has now agreed to respect the right of all Americans to share their views in public spaces without fear of being silenced or censored.”

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