Yesterday “The Wall of Separation” noted that while public attitudes have shifted favorably on issues like marriage equality and LGBTQ rights, members of the LGBTQ community still face numerous challenges.
An example of one of these challenges played out recently in Frederick County, Md., where a woman took extreme steps to stop people from seeing LGBTQ-themed books in a public library.
As part of a recognition of Pride Month, the Brunswick Public Library created a special display of LGBTQ-themed books and placed it in the lobby. This isn’t unusual. Public libraries often feature displays like this for Black History Month, Women’s History Month, holidays and other special events.
This particular display contained books about LGBTQ history, LGBTQ influences on music, and books aimed at parents who have LGBTQ children. Heather Fletcher, a county resident and a candidate for the county’s school board, saw it and went ballistic. Her response was to check out every book in the display to make the library “a safe place for children,” she told the Frederick News-Post.
Fletcher told the newspaper she was “disturbed” by the display, adding that she did not want her three children to see the word “queer” on a book.
“This has nothing to do with the gay community,” Fletcher said. “It has to do with the preservation of innocence.”
Fletcher also took a cup that contained pins listing pronouns. (Such pins are designed to let others know what the wearer’s preferred pronouns are.) Fletcher accused the library of spending taxpayer money on the pins, but Samantha Jones, a spokeswoman for the library system, noted that a Friends of the Library group paid for the pins with privately raised funds.
Fletcher later defended her stunt in a rambling Facebook post. (Blogger Hemant Mehta has it here if you really want to read it.) But her actions were pointless. After Fletcher left with the books, library employees simply refigured the display.
Fletcher, who later returned the books, has vowed to stop patronizing county libraries. Some might applaud that, but it’s an overreaction. A more mature response would be to accept that public libraries contain lots of material. Some of it is aimed at adults, and some of it is intended for children. Some of it you will agree with, and some of it you won’t.
Borrow what you want and leave the rest, and if you’re a parent, by all means, guide your children as they make their choices. If your child chooses a book that you believe isn’t appropriate for him or her, you can always say no.
Fletcher and those who think like her can always say no for their own children. But too often, they try to say no for the entire community. They simply do not have that right.