Public pushing back on Greenville County GOP’s call to move LGBTQ library books

Published: Sep. 23, 2022 at 6:23 PM EDT
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GREENVILLE, S.C. (FOX Carolina) -- People are speaking out after the Greenville County Republican Party has set their sights on removing certain LGBTQ books from the children’s section of county libraries.

They say the books are sexually graphic and should be shelved in the adult section.

This comes as the American Library Association reports the country is on track to have another record-breaking year of book challenges.

Here in the Upstate, we’ve seen challenges in Pickens County, Spartanburg County and several times in Greenville County this year.

“I’m tired of being demonized. I’m tired of being silenced,” one person said at the podium during Thursday night’s public hearing session for county council. “I’m tired of being censored and I’m tired of being sexualized by 80-year-old white men. That’s creepy, y’all.”

Because the decision came from the Greenville GOP, councilman Joe Dill said he’s taking up the issue and looking into the legality of bringing a resolution to county council.

“Whether or not it appears as a resolution or not that’s out in the future,” Dill said.

Many people spoke during public comment including Leslie Johnson, who co-founded PFLAG Greenville in 1992. The group provides to people in the LGBTQ community and their families.

“55 years ago I had a son. By the time he was 5, he knew he was different,” Johnson said. “I would have adored for him to have books to read about who he was.”

The debate comes during the ALA’s 40th Banned Books Week. Former South Carolina Library Association president and Clemson University librarian Megan Palmer said it’s more relevant than ever.

“The vast majority of people do not believe in book banning and do not believe in restricting library materials so it really is just a small group of people that are challenging these books,” Palmer said.

According to an ALA survey, 71% of voters oppose book bans in public libraries.

“What we are seeing now is an increasing urgency to defend one’s right to read, particularly among our nation’s youth,” Palmer said.

While all of the speakers at Thursday night’s meeting spoke against the GOP’s proposal, Dill says he is hearing from people on the other side.

“I’ve been getting emails and phone calls from those that are adverse to indoctrinating children through this kind of literature,” he said.

Dill also said he has not read any of the books the GOP is calling out, so he doesn’t know if he would call it indoctrination or not.

For now, it’s up to the Greenville County Library Board of Trustees to decide where the books belong. Their next meeting is Monday at noon. FOX Carolina News will be there and bring you an update.