The Greenville County GOP wants books with LGBT themes removed from children’s and young adult sections of the public library.
A resolution was passed by the party last week, the week before the annual Banned Books Week, which began Monday. Banned Books Week has been held since 1982 and sponsored by a number of organizations, including the American Library Association.
Jeff Davis, chair of the Greenville County GOP, said the timing was coincidental, and the party is not asking to ban the books, but to keep them out of reach of children, who could be “indoctrinated” by their contents.
Parents should make the choice about whether a child should read a book with those themes.
Davis said his wife and others have checked out LGBTQ-themed books from the Greenville County library to understand their contents and to keep them out of circulation, similar to what people have done in Anderson and Pickens counties.
Susan Ward, president of Greenville’s chapter of PFLAG, which brings together parents, families and friends of LGBTQ people, said the idea a child can be influenced into being LGBTQ is misguided.
“That’s just wrong,” she said.
She said indoctrination comes about by limiting children’s literature.
“Calling a children’s book illustration of same-gender parents ‘highly sexual’ is the definition of sexualization. It is a mountain of hypocrisy dreamed up by right-wing extremists to drum up a vote,” she said.
Carolyn Caldwell, president of Upstate Pride SC said, “Every student — no matter their race, background, sexual orientation, or gender identity — deserves to feel safe and welcomed in schools, libraries, and bookstores alike. They deserve to read books and see themselves represented.”
She said white men in power work to determine what people different from themselves read, learn, say, and who they can love. She called it an abuse of power.
“The dangerous practice of banning books and silencing educators is not new and has always been used by those who want to maintain division, othering, and supremacy while rolling back progress, sowing fear, hiding important truths and inducing moral panic,” she said.
Then added, “Cut it out! We see you and it’s ugly!”
Davis compared the book issue with the state’s drinking age.
“Kids can’t buy a beer until they are 21. Should they be able to access these books before a certain age without parental consent? I think not and that should be reasonable,” he said.
He said he had never heard of PFLAG, but would like to meet to hear their concerns.
Ward said her organization and a host of other LGBTQ organizations in the area will certainly express their concerns when Greenville County Council members meet to consider a resolution being drafted now.
Davis said he believes it will be presented in October.
He said the local GOP voted unanimously to ask that the materials be taken from children’s areas. Their concerns were heightened when the Greenville County LIbrary System had a display of LGBTQ-themed books in several branches during Pride Month in June.
When they heard complaints, the displays were taken down and then reinstalled.
A spokesperson from the Greenville County LIbrary could not be reached for comment.
Kimberlie Davis, spokesperson for the Richland County library, said they have not received any request to reconsider any of the LGBTQ-themed books in their catalog.
Among the books at issue are “Daddy & Dada” about a girl with two dads, “Pride Puppy!” about a family whose dog goes missing at a Pride parade, “Teo’s Tutu” about a boy’s first ballet recital, and “Sex is a Funny Word,” a sex education book about different variations of families that have been challenged in other jurisdictions.