Hundreds of residents of Orange City, Iowa, are urging the town's library to label and segregate books that deal with LGBTQ themes, the Des Moines Register reports.
More than 300 residents of the city signed a petition demanding that the library label, and shelve separately, "materials that deal primarily LGBTQ issues" and "halt new acquisition of any additional materials that primarily deal with LGBTQ materials before a public discussion can be held about the acquisition so valuable feedback can be given by important stakeholders such as parents, teachers, and faith communities."
Copies of the petition were circulated throughout the town along with a flier that features a quote from pastor and author Kevin DeYoung: "It is no little mistake in God’s eyes to encourage and support what harms our fellow creatures and dishonors our Creator."
The flier also featured images of three LGBTQ-themed books aimed at young readers: "Two Boys Kissing" by David Levithan, "This Day in June" by Gayle E. Pitman and "Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress" by Christine Baldacchino. All three books have been frequently challenged in the past by people who disapprove of their subject matter.
At a meeting of the library's board of trustees last week, a local pastor accused the library of supporting a pro-gay "agenda," the Sioux City Journal reports.
"As a congregation, I would have to say we are shocked that tax money is being used to push this agenda even further," the Rev. Sacha Walicord said. "As pastors, we have been silent for far too long. We have rolled over for far too long. This ends now."
Orange City resident Mike Goll spoke in support of keeping the LGBTQ-themed books with the rest of the library's materials.
"There are gay kids, there are trans kids in this town, and seeing their faces and seeing their lives mirrored in some of the books here means everything," Goll said.
The debate spilled over to the library's Facebook page, where users took to leaving reviews to express their opinions on the LGBTQ books.
"I never used to have to worry about what my children would come across at the library," wrote a user with an account under the name David-Kathy Taylor. "Now, even in the children's section, I have to pre-screen what my children can even look at when in the children's section. It appears that the current directors personal beliefs have flowed into her public sector job. What a shame, considering taking my kids to [Sioux Center Public Library] where they are not subject to such things."
Another user, Michael Zellmer-McMahan, wrote in support of LGBTQ books in the town's library.
"It deeply saddens me that people from a community would seek to attack material that is so useful and meaningful to LGBTQ adolescents," Zellmer-McMahan wrote. "For kids who feel differently, or who don't fit the norm, there needs to be an outlet for them to feel safe, and a book is such a wonderful outlet to let them know that they are not alone."