Town board votes to ban book-banning while slamming conservative activists
The Wellington Board of Trustees passed a resolution on Tuesday to prevent banning books from the town’s public library.
In a 5-2 vote, the board made a strong proclamation against a group of residents, who in August had petitioned the board to ban a list of 19 books.
The resolution declares that the board may not “censor, suppress, remove, monitor or place age restrictions on ideas or information in our public library,” reports the Coloradoan.
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The group trying to ban the books was led by Christine Gaiter, the wife of Board member Jon Gaiter (who voted against the resolution). On Christine Gaiter’s list were books like Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye and E.L James’s Fifty Shades of Grey – and books with LGBTQ themes like Mariko Tamaki’s This One Summer and The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky – all of which she claimed were “pornographic materials.” She also said that librarians “should not endorse children to read pornography without a parent’s permission.”
The resolution against book banning was proposed by Trustee Rebekka Dailey, who called it “disgusting” to accuse library staff of providing pornography to kids.
“It’s obviously not true,” Dailey added during public comments.
While some people wanted the books completely banned, Gaiter recently told the board she merely wanted them restricted in a way that kids could only obtain them with a parent or guardian’s permission.
The Board’s vote to ban book banning took place after a passionate public comment period.
“Not to be rude, but you can’t tell me what I can and can’t read,” said young resident Sienna Zadina.
Resident Dylan Delehoy said the fact that they were even having this discussion “paints a sad picture of our town” and that “kids deserve a place to go to explore and learn.”
Two Wellington residents also spoke about their experiences surviving sexual abuse and suicide attempts, and how books that made them feel understood saved their lives.
Wellington’s resolution comes about as conservatives across the country continue their unprecedented fight to ban books about racism and LGBTQ people from both schools and public libraries. Many of them have claimed that any LGBTQ content is “pornography.”
Parents and politicians are petitioning school boards and proposing laws to severely limit the type of content kids can access. In some states, laws have been proposed that would criminalize librarians and other school staff if they don’t remove certain books from the shelves.
Conservatives have claimed that parents should have more control over what their children can access, even though books with similar heterosexual scenes don’t face the same scrutiny. In many cases, their fights have been successful.
“I’ve never seen anything like this,” Deborah Caldwell-Stone, director of the Office for Intellectual Freedom at the American Library Association, recently told the Associated Press. “It’s both the number of challenges and the kinds of challenges. It used to be a parent had learned about a given book and had an issue with it. Now we see campaigns where organizations are compiling lists of books, without necessarily reading or even looking at them.”
But with resolutions like the one passed in Wellington, people are fighting back, including the kids, themselves. In Lafayette, Louisiana, for example, 10-year-old Cora Newton set up a Little Queer Library lending box after residents of her town began petitioning to ban certain books.
And in New Jersey, a high school librarian was awarded a national prize for opposing the removal of LGBTQ books from school libraries in the face of backlash and harassment.