The situation at the Huntsville Public Library with the book display & City manager

Huntsville City Council Meeting

The City of Huntsville is divided over an issue regarding The Huntsville Public Library’s book displays. After concerns about the “Read With Pride” display being too close to the children’s novels circulated, the Huntsville Public Library was told to remove all displays until the City Council could “review policies and procedures regarding displays.” A City Council meeting took place on September 20, 2022 where citizens were given the floor to testify on this situation.

The City Council issued a statement before opening the floor stating that their action regarding the removal of the displays was “not directed at any specific content whatsoever because all displays were discontinued.” Despite this attempt at neutrality, topics regarding the targeting of  LGBTQ+ citizens, a supposed “gay agenda” in libraries,  and more were immediately brought to the stand.

 A majority of citizens that spoke were in agreement that it was important to protect the children of Huntsville. Those who wished to protect the inclusivity of children of LGBTQ+ households were in disagreement with those who wished to shield their children from books regarding sexual matters of any kind.

One man spoke of the importance of majority rules, openly stating the importance of keeping the majority happy. This directly contrasts with the opposing side’s fight to protect the minority (maybe even celebrate them with a display in the public library).

Many were also concerned with the exploitative nature of this type of literature. One man discussed how the display was displayed for everyone to see, forcing some kind of agenda on the Huntsvillian youth. This simple difference in perspective divides the town. One sees a forced agenda, and the other sees a spotlight for those who are often overlooked.

One woman also discussed her dissatisfaction with the council for meeting behind closed doors to discuss a public matter. This of course was combated with a series of numerous thanks for the council’s time and loyalty in keeping Huntsville a “wholesome community.”

This was the first reading of the agenda item regarding the Huntsville Public Library. The council will reconvene over this issue at the next meeting.

Huntsville City Council Meeting Update: October 4, 2022

The Huntsville City Council meeting called for citizen participation without action regarding the situation at the Huntsville Public Library. Refer back to the previous article for a recap of the September 20, 2022 meeting.

Christopher Randel, who was written into the agenda to start the discussion on issues regarding the LGBTQ+ pride book display, was armed with four pages of a clear argument condemning the bigotry that occurred last meeting. He ended his points with a promise to sue the council in the case of not rescinding the order.

The tensions were higher than last meeting, as the minority of LGBTQ+ allies became the majority of those taking the stand. Rather than a repetitive band of homophobia, those who took the stand called out the bigotry and hate from their neighbors.

A few people that spoke last meeting expanded their thoughts at this one. One man claimed there was no way for a book containing LGBTQ+ content to not be sexually perverse as it contains a “mature adults’ deviant sexual decisions.” This distaste for deviancy is disguised as a concerned parent, rather than a bigot. This same man claimed he would take this “label of hate if it meant keeping pedophiles out of Huntsville.” Somehow pedophilia, defined as sexual feelings directed towards children, was grouped together with the discussion of LGBTQ+ literature. This reveals the fear mongering tactics of those wishing to remove the pride display permanently. 

Multiple people took the stand to call for the removal of all sexually explicit books, including those that push a heteronormative lifestyle. This is a slippery slope that could lead Huntsville down a dark road.

One man warned of this slippery slope. He stated “A section with all sexually explicit literature will be larger than you think.”

The woman who concluded those who took the stand, defended the literary merit of these novels. In response to the numerous requests from the last meeting for a “neutral library,” she stated, “what they mean by neutral is straight, white, and Christian.”

The case of Sund v. Wichita Falls was brought up multiple times at the meeting. The case involves the censorship of two acclaimed books, “Heather Has Two Mommies” and “Daddy’s Roommate.” The council had censored the books by restricting access from children. This was seen by the Texas Supreme Court as unconstitutional under the 1st and 14th amendment.

No action was taken regarding the agenda item of the Huntsville Public Library. The council will reconvene over the issue at the next meeting.

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