Here at Daily Kos, we’ve continued to highlight the ongoing fascist attacks on libraries and public school classrooms. Why are books under attack right now? As we approach the 2022 midterm elections, Republicans have been trying to see what they can get away with when it comes to stirring outrage in their voter base. Sadly, we’re seeing anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric gain significant traction among conservatives in office, which has resulted in Don’t Say Gay bills, anti-trans sports bills, and massive blows to gender-affirming health care for both youth and adults. We’re also seeing Republicans go after books.
Many of the books Republicans most want to ban from public consumption are by and about people of color and LGBTQ+ people, though some are targeted because they’re about sexual violence awareness and sexual health education. We’ve covered librarians being forced to resign after threats and “extremism” as well as one actually taking right-wingers to court over their alleged attacks. At the end of the day, this burden is deeply unfair to both librarians and students—the police were called to one high school library in Texas to remove a book featuring a gay character. How is that supposed to make any young person feel? Ashamed and isolated—which is exactly what conservatives want.
We’ve also seen residents vote to defund their local library instead of keeping LGBTQ+ books on the shelves, putting the library at risk of closing down. Amid outcry and efforts to save the library, novelist Nora Roberts has donated $50,000 to the Patmos Library in Jamestown, Michigan, to help keep the library afloat, as reported by BuzzFeed News.
RELATED STORY: School district cancels $20,000 in student lunch debt
As some context for how in the world we got here, back in early August, residents of Jamestown voted to defund the library because of a handful of LGBTQ+ books available on the shelves. If you’re guessing this was part of the anti-queer “grooming” hysteria being spouted off by the right, you’d be correct. The town has a millage model for funding the library, meaning that about 85% of the library’s budget came from a share of taxes from the town. By defunding the millage, residents effectively defunded the library entirely.
"Libraries and librarians should be valued and celebrated,” Roberts wrote. “Never attacked and demeaned. 50k is the limit GoFundMe allows for donations. If you’re short of your goal, please contact me. I’ll make up the rest."
Roberts described the donation as an “honor” to stand up for the library and its staff via a statement to Bridge Michigan. She went on to say librarians are the “guardians” of stories and that she finds it “appalling and sad” that librarians are facing attacks and threats.
A publicist for Roberts, Laura Reeth, shared her perspective on Roberts’ donation in a blog post. She wrote that she grew up walking to her local library and that she remembers it being a “magical place” where she could “fill up” her days with stories.
The next vote regarding restoring the millage happens on Nov. 8. Sadly, this library isn’t alone in facing threats, harassment, and even protests. Conservatives are doubling down hard on anti-LGBTQ+ extremism through banning books, and teachers and librarians—who are already overworked and burdened by misguided hate—are struggling to protect their students and themselves.
Local elections truly matter so much, and this anti-book movement is just one of many examples of why we need to stay involved in local politics and school board meetings. Education depends on it.
There is no more effective way for you to help turn out infrequent but Democratic-leaning voters in key congressional districts and Senate swing states this year than Vote Forward. Sign up to write personalized letters to targeted voters from the comfort of your home, on your own schedule, using a statistically proven method and without ever having to talk to anyone at all.