Uproar over LGBTQ advocacy toward children in a rural Iowa library leads to biased media coverage.

LOGAN, Iowa – This rural town of fewer than 1,400 residents is dealing with a huge uproar, and questionable media coverage, over the public library featuring the book “Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag” as part of Pride month.

The choice would have likely avoided controversy had the book not been written specifically for children.

Backlash from residents was swift, with many engaging in a letter-writing campaign to city leaders and members of the library board, culminating in a public forum Monday at the library board’s regularly scheduled meeting.

While vigorous pushback from the close-knit community might have been expected, given the subject matter and the book’s target age group – ages 5-8, according to the publisher – media reporting on the issue has characterized the position of opponents as “baseless, and homophobic,” all but ignoring the concerns raised.

A report in the Daily Beast dismissed valid concerns over the age appropriateness of showcasing a book of this nature to K-third grade children – a discomfort expressed by the overwhelming majority of speakers opposed to the display.

“I think we have to make a distinction between having (LGBTQ+) resources available and promoting them,” one community member said, according to KETV Omaha. “And when you put something up in a prominent position in the library, you are promoting it.”

In Monday’s forum, even former Logan Public Library Director Jennifer Joy Andregg pointed out, “Some of us asked for there not to be [a] children’s program or children’s displays on sexuality. I don’t like how this in-your-face sexuality affects my daughter.”

Most of those who spoke in opposition repeatedly made clear they weren’t seeking a removal of the book, or other LGBTQ-themed literature from the library, only for staff to refrain from promoting the materials to children.

The Daily Beast piece luxuriated in bias when referring to an open letter received by the mayor of Logan and members of the library board: 

“The letter also repeated common homophobic falsehoods about homosexuality being linked to pedophilia, same-sex intercourse, promiscuity, and a cause of mood and anxiety disorders, alongside photos from a children’s drag queen story hour at an unidentified library.”

The allegation that “same-sex intercourse” is a “homophobic falsehood” may come as a surprise to the many married or cohabitating homosexuals with active sex lives.

The letter also pointed out the widely held perception that a pro-homosexuality agenda is being pursued by the American Library Association (ALA), an allegation included out of context in the Daily Beast story in an apparent attempt to discredit the writer as a conspiracy theorist making “baseless accusations.”

The Daily Beast reporter neglected to mention the remarkably vigorous LGBTQ advocacy campaign that has been a centerpiece of the ALA since the 1970s. Still known by its outdated acronym, GLBT (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transsexual), the purpose behind the long-lived initiative is clearly stated as “advocacy” for homosexuality.

Titled the “Rainbow Roundtable,” the mission, as stated on the ALA website, certainly appears to meet the letter writer’s description. The Rainbow Roundtable is charged with providing:

“… support to those who advocate for library services to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, pansexual, genderqueer, queer, intersex, agender, asexual, and ally communities, families, and their allies at the local, state, and national level. Works with other ALA units, including divisions, the Chapter Relations Committee, and the Committee on Library Advocacy to integrate LGBTQIA+ advocacy into their planning and advocacy strategies.”

The Rainbow Roundtable publishes an annual best book list divided into two categories, one for preschool to middle grade, the other for young-to-late teens.

Under the “Picture Book Fiction” heading for 2021, children are offered titles such as “From Archie to Zack, about a blossoming love between two male youths. 

“Archie writes letters to his friend, Zack, telling him that he loves him,” the book’s description reads. “Not ready to share his words with Zack, Archie instead hides his notes in various spots around the neighborhood. Will Archie and Zack ever be able to tell each other how they feel? This sweet picture book captures the deep feelings two children can have for each other.”

Then there is “Call Me Max,” a book recommended for children ages 7-9 about “a young trans boy, [who] transitions at school and comes out to his parents while explaining gender identity to the audience and exploring the difference between gender-nonconformity and transness.”

For the younger kids, ages 3-6, the Rainbow Roundtable has made certain they feel the inclusivity as well, with an offering titled, “I’m not a girl.”

“After trying for months to assert his identity as a boy, Hannah finally learns the word ‘transgender’ and comes out to his parents, who support him and help him socially transition,” the description says.

These books are among a Top Ten list of such offerings. There are far more lurid titles and descriptions to be seen among the 122 other books chosen by the Roundtable for inclusion in its 2022 advocacy campaign.

It’s unclear how the open letter to Logan officials is inaccurate in its description of the socio/sexual bent of the American Library Association, despite the dismissive treatment given by the Daily Beast in its coverage.

Current Logan Public Library Director Kate Simmons said the Harvey Milk book had been in the library since 2018 with no objections before June, when it was highlighted for Pride month.

That fact underscores the position of many concerned residents who believe the book ought to be available, just not promoted. The residents argue it is parents’ role to introduce their children to sexuality, not a librarian’s.

There will be another meeting in mid-September in which suggested resolutions to the impasse are expected to be considered.

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