Michigan Town Votes to Defund Library Over LBGT Books

Michigan Town Votes to Defund Library Over LBGT Books a library book is removed from a shelf (Dreamstime)

By Charlie McCarthy | Friday, 05 August 2022 02:00 PM EDT

Residents in a western Michigan town voted against a property tax increase that would have funded the local library after the building displayed LGBT literature.

Jamestown Township, a small town located near Grand Rapids, voted down the proposed property tax increase 1,905 to 1,142, according to ABC affiliate WZZM.

The town voted for then-President Donald Trump in 2020 by a margin of 76% to 21%.

The property tax vote guts the Patmos Library's 2023 operating budget of $245,000 budget, 84% of which comes from property tax money collected.

Voters who opposed the increase told Bridge Michigan that they were against books in the library's adult and young adult section that depict, in some cases in detail, same-sex relationships.

"I wasn't expecting anything like this," library board president Larry Walton told Bridge Michigan. "The library is the center of the community. For individuals to be short sighted to close that down over opposing LGBTQ is very disappointing."

Earlier this year, an area parent raised concerns about the graphic novel "Gender Queer: A Memoir," located in the library's adult graphic novel section. The book tells the story of the author's coming of age as nonbinary, and includes illustrations of sex acts, Bridge Michigan said.

Although library board meetings usually had drawn only a few residents, as many as 50 this spring were at several meetings in which they demanded the book be pulled from the shelves. The library board moved the book behind the counter, where children couldn’t see it.

Complaints were filed about several other books, which remain on the shelves of the young adult (high-school age) graphic novels section, Bridge Michigan reported. Those books include "Spinning," a graphic novel about a teen girl and her attraction to other girls, and "Kiss Number 8," a graphic novel with similar themes.

The library's director resigned this spring – she claimed to have been harassed online – and the interim director resigned.

After the Patmos staff and elected board of directors declined to remove the books from the library's collection, a group named Jamestown Conservatives led the charge to defeat the proposed property tax increase.

The group passed out flyers at the town's Memorial Day parade that referenced "Gender Queer: a Memoir," a Pride Month display at the library and a director who, in the group's words, "promoted the LGBTQ ideology."

"Pray that we can make changes and make the Patmos Library a safe and neutral place for our children," the flyer said.

Yard signs urging residents to vote no on the tax increase popped up on Jamestown’s main street. One homemade sign said, "50 percent increase to GROOM our kids? Vote NO on Library!"

For the average home with a market value of $250,000, the increase would raised taxes by $24.