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Moms for Liberty urges Madison council to leverage library funding

The citizens highlighted books on gender transitioning and sexual education as books that Huntsville-Madison libraries should remove from sections for minors.

Funds appropriated by the Madison City Council specifically fund the Madison Public Library.
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Residents associated with Moms for Liberty called on the Madison City Council Tuesday to withhold funding to the Huntsville Madison County Public Library system unless it updates policy to restrict LGBTQ books.

The residents argued that the library’s current policy runs afoul of new requirements from the Alabama Public Library Service and will therefore cost the library more than half a million dollars in state funding. The overall operating budget for Huntsville last year was $8.2 million, of which Madison plays a large role.

The residents said the policy needs to be changed to prevent “sexually explicit” books from being available in the children’s and young adult sections, but focused heavily on “transgenderism.”

“I went into the library and looked at a book and it’s called When Aiden Becomes a Brother,” said Kathy Young. “When you look at the book … you find out that Aiden was actually born as a girl—and he decided that he didn’t like pink and he didn’t like frills, so he must be a boy. And that’s at a very young age to be exposing children to transgenderism, in my opinion.”

Emily Jones, founder of Madison County Moms for Liberty, said the new APLS policies are “common sense” and make it so that her 9-year-old son can’t check out Genderqueer, a graphic memoir originally intended for adults that is sometimes placed in young adult sections for older teens.

Jones highlighted the controversial sex education book It’s Perfectly Normal  which includes childlike illustrations of body parts and sexual acts and accurately names genitalia and other body parts. 

Carissa Callan insinuated that allowing the library to continue its current policies will lead to “porn-addicted, sexually obsessed people in your city.”

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Callan also compared the library’s current availability of books to the actual solicitation of a minor.

“We still recoil when we see a news report of someone arrested for electronically soliciting and grooming a minor, it happened last week … but that’s happening in the library with the books on the shelf,” Callan said.

Callan also mentioned It’s Perfectly Normal as well as another sex education book The Boy’s Guide to Growing Up—which she noted includes an illustration of an erect penis. The book is intended as a book to inform younger readers about the onset of puberty.

She also hit on gender ideology, again bringing up When Aiden Becomes a Brother and Being You: A First Conversation About Gender—neither of which have any sexual content.

Two other books she mentioned—The Big Bath House and Fine: A Comic About Gender do contain nudity. The nudity in The Big Bath House is nonsexual in nature, with illustrations showing women and girls of all ages bathing together in a communal bath house in Japan, which is a traditional custom in the country. 

Callan also complained about the calendar soon turning to June and how the library might engage in “Pride Month.”

“Will your publicly-funded library have these books that go against the APLS code out for minors on display,” Callan asked.

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None of the books she mentioned clearly violate the APLS code, which states that libraries must adopt policies to keep sexually explicit books out of sections for minors. 

The LGBTQ books lack sexual content, and the other books could be classified as age-appropriate materials concerning biology and human anatomy.

The state code includes vague language that libraries should adopt policies to keep “materials deemed inappropriate for minors” out of those sections as well, but it is not defined. APLS board member and ALGOP chair John Wahl told APR that he is unsure whether that determination would be made by APLS or local library boards. 

Amy Minton, the new APLS board member who offered the amendment to the code changes pursued by Gov. Kay Ivey, made it clear that she wants LGBTQ content kept out of children’s sections. But the originally proposed language to prohibit books with “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” were cut out of the final APLS code changes.

Rachel Homolak, who is facing a defamation suit in Missouri for accusing a librarian of grooming children, told the council that the “children of Alabama” are looking to the council for protection from “targeted, groomed and sexualized by the books that are in the Madison library.”

Multiple residents told the council they simply wanted the books moved to a parenting section or adult section.

Homolak asked the council to “put these books where they belong—the garbage, but for now we’ll say the adult section.”

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The APLS code changes will not be confirmed until July, and no indication has been made by APLS at this time that HMCPL is in danger of losing state funding.

Corrections: This article was updated at 11:00 p.m. on May 30, 2024 to make a few corrections. The original lede said that residents “affiliated” with Moms for Liberty spoke to the council. Only one resident is officially affiliated with the group, while two others—Carissa Callan and Rachel Homolak—are associated with that group and other book challenging organizations such as Clean Up Alabama. 

Jacob Holmes is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can reach him at [email protected]

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