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Prattville Library approves workaround for LGBT book ban

The Autauga-Prattville Public Library board of trustees ended its outright ban on LGBT books Monday.

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The Autauga-Prattville Public Library board of trustees ended its outright ban on LGBT books Monday, but approved internal rules that would support the library director for removing LGBT books.

The policy wasn’t immediately available Monday following the meeting—board secretary Doug Darr said it should be posted on the website within 24 hours—but attorney Bryan Taylor told the board the new policy mostly copies the recommendations from the expected changes to the Alabama Public Library Service administrative code.

The only major additions to what is laid out in the APLS state aid requirements are definitions for “obscene” and “sexually explicit” materials, and the designation of who will deem materials inappropriate at the library.

Those decision will be made by the library director “in the exercise of common sense, professional judgment and compliance with any applicable laws and any relevant standards, guidance and policies adopted by the board of trustees,” Taylor read from the policy.

As discussed at a policy committee meeting on Friday, the policy also makes changes to the reconsideration of materials policy which currently exists solely to challenge books on the shelves. The new policy will allow challenges at the acquisition stage and at the stage of removal by the library director. 

The policy committee did not previously discuss, however, a resolution setting internal rules for that process. According to Taylor’s reading, those rules include barring the board from overturning the director’s decision to remove a book if it includes “mature themes concerning issues of sexuality, sexual orientation, sexual abuse, or gender identity.”

The board would also be unable to overturn the director’s decision if it includes the glorification  or encouragement of “illicit drug use, alcohol or tobacco use by minors, overt racial or ethnic animus, sexual harassment or discrimination, xenophobia or homophobia, transphobia or  animus based on sexual orientation, promiscuity, teen pregnancy, physical or sexual abuse, polygamy or any other criminal activity or conduct.”

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The rule barring a reversal of a book removal based on “mature themes concerning issues of sexuality, sexual orientation, sexual abuse or gender identity” appears to give the library director the power to remove books targeted by Clean Up Prattville such as The Pronoun Book and many others without any potential recourse from patrons. The board could not overturn the director’s decision, although the board can terminate the employment of directors at will who they feel are not properly managing the collection.

The policy changes come as the previous policies are under scrutiny in federal court after a lawsuit from patrons joined by Read Freely Alabama and the Alabama Library Association.

The suit specifically alleges that the policy passed by the board on Feb. 8 is over broad, vague, and constitutes viewpoint discrimination.

The new policy appears designed to address those concerns, and board members spoke about the policy changes at length in an executive session prior to adopting the changes. The policies outright prohibitions are now clearly defined based on definitions in state or federal law. The policy no longer outright targets content for having “gender identity, sexual orientation or gender discordance.”

Taylor said interim director Tammy Bear had been advised not to answer questions about what specific content would be weeded, as those decisions should be made on a case-by-case basis based on her judgment of the content found in each book.

Under this new policy, the director could wipe out every LGBT-affirming book in the library, and the board has pre-insulated itself from overturning those decisions. Unless new board members change the policy again, this would also insulate future boards from overturning those decisions.


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

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


Minton said her focus on library books with LGBTQ content comes from a place of compassion rather than hate.


Minton said the library would need to remove books promoting transgenderism in order to comply with new state aid requirements.


The Alabama Public Library Service received at least 4,300 letters in support or opposition to proposed code changes.