Michigan town library defunded over LGBTQ books loses vote again, may close | #students | #parents

A vote yes committee spent more than $12,000 to drum up support for the library, with slick flyers and a Grand Rapids public relations firm coordinating a text message campaign.

Still, the millage vote lost handily on Tuesday, and three library board candidates endorsed by a vote no campaign were elected.

Dean Smith, the chair of the township planning commission and treasurer of the vote no campaign, told Bridge last week he wanted library board members with “a more Judeo-Christian mindset,” and he’d prefer there be no LGBTQ-themed books accessible to children or young adults.

The composition of the library board, which had recently voted to keep the controversial books in its collection, will now be split 3-3 between members who want the books to be available, and members who would like to see them  removed or have access restricted.

Debbie Mikula, executive director of the Michigan Library Association, said Wednesday she was “disheartened” by the vote. “They’re going to have to weigh a lot of options about what is next for them, and that’s up to them locally.”

Walton said the current plan is for the library to try again to win an operating millage in August 2024, just months before Walton said the library is expected to run out of money.

The community of 10,000 is conservative, even for a county that is considered one of the most conservative in Michigan, favoring former President Donald Trump by a margin of 76-21 percent in 2020. 

Some residents express concern that exposure to LGBTQ-themed books, particularly those that are detailed in their descriptions or illustrations of sex acts, could “groom” children to be gay.

Jamestown resident Amanda Ensing, an organizer of a Facebook group fighting against the books, told Bridge in August that library staff “are trying to groom our children to believe that it’s OK to have these sinful desires … It’s not a political issue, it’s a Biblical issue.”

But Salem Sousley, who identified as nonbinary and lives near the library, said it’s important for young people trying to understand their sexuality to see characters in books going through the same struggles.

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