The Michigan town of Jamestown has voted to defund its library after local conservatives accused it of "grooming" children with LGBTQ+-themed books.
The town, a suburb of Grand Rapids, a reliably conservative stronghold in the state, voted down a millage that constitutes 85% of the funding for its Patmos Library--the second time it has done so in a matter of months.
Local conservatives have been attacking the library all year over the 90 LGBTQ+-themed books in its 67,000-book collection, which one local resident says promotes "sinful desires."
Jamestown library millage fails again over LGBTQ booksyoutu.be
Those attacking the library have repeatedly parroted far-right talking points and propaganda that insinuates LGBTQ+ people and allies are pedophiles, accusing them of grooming children for homosexual sex.
Such accusations have been instrumental to the success of legislation like Florida's virulently anti-LGBTQ+ so-called "Don't Say Gay" bill championed by Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, whose administration has repeatedly accused anyone who opposes the bill of "grooming" children in the state.
Local Jamestown resident Amanda Ensing, one of several who have campaigned against the Patmos Library, trafficked in this propaganda, while also claiming the vote against the library was not a political issue, in comments to local media:
“They 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.”
The Patmos Library responded to previous attacks by keeping its most controversial book, asexual and nonbinary author Maia Kobabe’s memoir Gender Queer, behind the main desk so that it could only be viewed or checked out on request, but it did little to quell conservatives' outrage.
The library's funding was first threatened in the town's August primary, which attracted national attention and resulted in a fundraiser that raised substantial money. Still, the library was forced to reduce opening hours, in part due to staffing shortages resulting from staff resignations after they received violent threats from those opposing the library.
Ensing told local media that it is not her or other activists' intention to shut the library down, but rather to act as a "wake-up call" to the library's leadership--a notion the library's board director Larry Walton pointedly dismissed, saying:
“A wake-up call to what? To take LGBTQ books off the shelf and then they will give us money?"
"What do you call that? Ransom?"
On Twitter, many were saddened and outraged by this latest bit of unhinged conservative overreach.
The fate of the Patmos Library is uncertain. But the public agenda for the library's next board meeting, slated for November 21st, includes allotted time to discuss both the outcome of the millage vote and the date of the library's closure.