Michigan town votes to defund library over LGBTQ books

A West Michigan library is likely to have to close after a group of residents voted against renewing a property tax mile that funds most of its budget.

On Tuesday, residents of Jamestown Township voted to effectively fund the Patmos Library over its refusal to remove LGBTQ material from its shelves.

With 1,905 residents voting against the mileage and 1,142 residents voting yes, the library will now lose 84% of its $245,000 budget.

Larry Walton, chairman of the library’s board of trustees, said that without the mileage, Patmos will likely run out of money by the end of next year.

“I didn’t expect something like this,” Walton told Bridge Michigan earlier this week. “The library is the center of the community. For individuals to be myopic to shut this out on LGBTQ opposition is very disappointing.

The Township of Ottawa County is a politically conservative community that voted for Donald Trump for President in 2020 by a 76-21% margin.

Ahead of Tuesday’s vote, a group of Conservative residents campaigned against renewal, urging people to vote “no” on the library mileage.

The group, the Jamestown Conservatives, chose a book often criticized by fellow conservatives across the country, and it was the most contested book in the United States in 2021, according to the American Library Association.

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“Gender Queer: A Memoir,” an award-winning graphic novel written by non-binary and queer author and illustrator Maia Kobabe from California, has been described by a star-studded review in School Library Journal as “an excellent resource for those identify as non-binary or asexual as well as for those who know someone who identifies as such and would like to understand better.

During the Memorial Day holiday, the group distributed flyers saying the book – which was displayed at the library in honor of Pride Month – “promoted LGBTQ ideology”.

“Pray that we can make changes and make the library on Patmos a safe and neutral place for our children,” the flyer said, according to Bridge Michigan.

Ahead of Tuesday’s vote, some residents posted signs on their lawns telling people to vote against the proposal.

A large sign read: “50% increase to PREPARE our children? Vote NO to the library!”

Walton told The Associated Press he isn’t sure when the funds will run out, but he hopes the council can find a solution — which could include seeking new mileage in a future election.

“I am optimistic that we will overcome the obstacle that the conservative group has thrown at us,” he said.

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