A Patmos, Michigan librarian called out conservatives for yanking library funding and for calling her and her staff "pedophiles" for including LGBTQ+ books in the library's collection.
There are only 90 LGBTQ-themed books in the Patmos Library's colllection of roughly 67,000 titles but they have nonetheless served as the catalyst behind a concerted effort mobilizing Republicans to slash library funding—and the librarian has had it with people who are angry the library is closing early as a result.
The librarian said that the situation in town has become so tense that she recently decided to close the library early, citing "staff safety." This was the "breaking point" for her, she said, noting that members of her staff have been "threatened" and "cursed" at by angry library patrons.
She also took aim at those who have put up signs calling librarians “pedophiles" and said she can't bring her own grandchildren into town because of the tense situation.
You can hear what she said in the video below.
"Why are we closing early? Well, we hit a breaking point. We have been threatened, we have been cursed."
"I come to work every day and let me tell you, I'm working twice as many hours because you can't hire anybody because of the choices that you make. I come in here, I greet everyone with a smile on my face: 'How are you? Hope you've had a good day.'"
"Every day. Five days a week, six days a week I've been working. There are signs... I can't bring my grandchildren to this town. They know I'm a librarian. They can read."
"I'm a 'pedophile?' How dare you people? You don't know me. You don't know anything about me."
"You have said that I've sexualized your children, that I'm grooming your children. I have six grandkids out there. I choose what they read when they come here with me."
She went on to say that she has been "cursed" and "threatened" on the phone, adding that people have actually walked into the library and shown her pictures and memes on their phones, accusing her of allowing 11-year-old children to check out books far beyond their reading level—even though 11-year-old children cannot be in the library without a parent or guardian.
"We broke. Deal with it. We’re human. I’m tired and I’m tired of all of you. I moved to this town two and a half years ago and I regretted it every day for the last year."
"This has been horrible. I didn’t know people could be like this. I wasn’t raised this way.”
“I’m Catholic, I’m Christian, I’m everything you are. But I was taught to love your neighbor as you love yourself. That’s not what I hear every day. Not from you!”
“It was one threat too many, one accusation too many. And all we do is come in here and serve you day after day after day. You’re welcome."
A pushback against literature deemed subversive has dominated the culture wars as of late, becoming a flashpoint among the far-right amid a campaign by Republicans to energize conservative voters, particularly in school board elections.
In recent months, the Republican Party has been gripped by an ongoing "groomer" hysteria accusing LGBTQ+ people of building relationships, trust and emotional connections with children so they can manipulate, exploit and abuse them.
This has resulted in a renewed pushback against the alleged "LGBTQ+ indoctrination" of children that has prompted at least one Republican to suggest parents and teachers who support LGBTQ+ children should be "executed for treason."
Much of the controversy surrounding the library revolved around the inclusion of LGBTQ+ books on its shelves, including Gender Queer, a graphic or comic book style memoir written and illustrated by Maia Kobabe. It recounts Kobabe's journey from adolescence to adulthood and the author's exploration of gender identity and sexuality, ultimately identifying as being outside of the gender binary.
Though highly acclaimed, its inclusion in libraries across the United States has often been challenged by parents, based on the presence of some sexually explicit illustrations. The book is recommended for teens, 15 and up.
Many have praised the librarian for speaking out and voiced their own frustrations.
Similar situations like the one the librarian complained about in the video have played out elsewhere around the country.
For instance, in October, a Maury County, Tennessee mother went viral after she criticized County Commissioner Aaron Miller for driving the county’s library director from his job for refusing to take down a Pride display.
Maury County Commissioner Aaron Miller—who runs the local organization Foundation for Liberty and Freedom—had earlier called on county library director Zachary Fox to resign on the grounds that a display of LGBTQ+ literature was inappropriate.
Miller claimed that the materials were “child-targeted," adding that as a father, his "line in the sand was crossed when the library exhibited a bright, colorful display of no less than 28 books for this past Pride Month, all of which were written and marketed specifically for minors, especially young children."
But he was quickly taken to task by local mother Jessee Graham, who railed into him in a speech during a meeting of the Maury County Board of Trustees about the circumstances that cost Fox his job, calling them out for working to “completely annihilate a group of human beings who just wanna exist."
There is a rather bittersweet ending to this story however.
After the librarian's complaints attracted attention from news outlets, the library began receiving donations from people around the country as part of an effort to fight its potential closure, which was scheduled for September 2024, owing to lack of funding.
However, the library's board announced that donations have proven so substantial that the library can remain operational up to January 2025.