March 2022 Church & State Magazine

Miss. Mayor Withholds Funds Over LGBTQ Library Books

  Miss. Mayor Withholds Funds Over LGBTQ Library Books

The mayor of a small city in Mississippi has refused to turn over city funds to the public library unless the institution purges itself of LGBTQ-themed books.

Mayor Gene McGee of Ridgeland is holding back $110,000 in funding for the Madison County library system, reported Mississippi Free Press, an online news site.

Tonja Johnson, executive director of the county libraries, told the Free Press she reached out to McGee after she failed to receive a quarterly payment from the city.

“He explained his opposition to what he called ‘homosexual materials’ in the library, that it went against his Christian beliefs, and that he would not release the money as long as the materials were there,” Johnson said.

Johnson told the Free Press that she explained to McGee that the library must serve the entire community, but he was unmoved.

McGee has admitted he might not have the power to withhold the funds, which the city’s board of aldermen has already approved, but said he acted because members of the community complained about some of the books in the library.

“We’re holding [the money] right now because we found a large number of citizens who have complained about displays of sexual, whatever you want to call it, content,” McGee said. “We’re just responding to those citizens’ complaints, and that’s the position we’re in.”

Friends of the Ridgeland Library set up a fundraising campaign to make up for some of the lost funds. The group had hoped to raise a few thousand dollars, but within a matter of days had pulled in $100,000.

 

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