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Prattville Library poised to rescind ban on LGBTQ+ books for minors

The new policy would not outright prohibit books containing LGBTQ+ content.

Autauga-Prattville Public Library
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Faced with a federal lawsuit, the policy committee of the Autauga-Prattville Public Library board of trustees met Friday afternoon to hear from attorney Bryan Taylor about potential policy changes.

As explained by Taylor, the new policy would not outright prohibit books containing content on “sexual orientation” or “gender identity/ideology” for minors.

The board had originally scheduled the meeting for Monday afternoon, but punted the meeting twice—first to Wednesday and then to Friday—to allow time for the policy proposals to be ironed out.

Those changes were still not fully formed Friday, but Taylor led the committee through the gist of what changes he had been working on. The changes are meant to be ready by Monday for consideration by the full board, should the members of the policy committee give their blessing.

Read Freely Alabama and the Alabama Library Association joined other APPL patrons in May to file suit against the board in Alabama’s Middle District Court, claiming the current policy is vague, overbroad and engages in unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination.

Taylor filed a request for an extension until July 1, because the library board intended to meet to consider revisions to the policy that could require the complaint to be amended, or could even make it “moot.”

Taylor’s suggestion is to essentially replace Prattville’s policy with the policy likely to be required by the new state administrative code—which requires libraries to safeguard minors from books that are “sexually explicit” or otherwise “deemed inappropriate for minors” in order to receive state funding.

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One of the major questions has been how materials are “deemed inappropriate for minors.” Nancy Pack, director of the Alabama Public Library Service, advised library directors through email Tuesday that libraries will determine what is inappropriate at the local level.

Taylor proposed not to define inappropriate material in the policy, but allow the library director to decide what is appropriate for minors outside the scope of sexually explicit content. Although this had not been specifically stated in the previous policy, this is how the process has worked in Prattville formerly.

Taylor also proposed changes to the public’s right to challenge materials, calling for a mechanism to allow the public to challenge the acquisition, shelving or removal of books.

There are currently more than 50 books pulled from the shelves and the catalog for review, including many books that have LGBTQ themes but no sexual content. 

The exact language of the policy will become more clear today after the full library board meets to replace the code.

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

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