HOUSTON COUNTY, Ala. (WDHN) — There’s a new push to ban some books with LGBTQ themes from the children’s section of the public library has come to Houston County.
On Monday morning, CBS 42 sister station WDHN got an e-mail from the chairman of the Houston County Commission, Brandon Shoupe, saying public institutions like our libraries are being “Infiltrated by political extremists,” something he calls a deeply disturbing trend. His email began with a red sign reading: “No Woke Zone.”
“Woke to me is that far-fringe left that is trying to do things like trying to push sexuality on our children,” Shoupe said.
Shoupe says he contacted the local library board and director after hearing about controversies at two Alabama libraries: one in Shelby County, where some parents tried to move a pride-month display from the children’s section. It featured some children’s books with LGBTQ themes.
The library director said the materials were age-appropriate about themes of love, kindness, being yourself, and LGBTQ history. The board voted to keep the display.
In Houston County, Shoupe contacted the library staff and said they did a thorough review of their inventory.
“There are books related to sexuality and things like that probably some libraries have in their children’s section. Our libraries do not,” Shoupe said.
In his email, Chairman Shoupe says Houston County libraries will not host children’s pride events; will not have explicit books in the children’s section; and will not have displays targeting our children with “inappropriate themes.”
“Where you have all this sexually explicit content that is being pushed on children as it relates to children’s sexuality,” Shoupe said, “children by their very nature are not sexual creatures.”
When the issue of LGBTQ books came before the library board in Shelby County, supporters said it is important for children to see representation and to create a safe space for everybody.
“I have seen what happens when children are not represented in their schools and their libraries and in their communities,” one concerned Shelby County resident said during the debate on the pride display at the local library. “It is detrimental, it is hurtful, and is hard to come back from.”
“No one is forcing your kids to take these books,” another Shelby County resident said during the debate on the pride display at the local library. “Growing up, I wasn’t safe at home, and it happened to be the library and teachers who taught me that it was OK.”
Chairman Shoupe said the library board and staff share his concern about the erosion of traditional values.
He said he does not think any government should censor books, but it’s easy to draw the line, and if someone does cross that line, he said they will likely lose funding from the Houston County Commission, which provides about $350,000 a year to the library.