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Arkansas Parents Sue Library System Over LGBTQ+ Book Censorship

Arkansas Parents Sue Library System Over LGBTQ+ Book Censorship


The plaintiffs say they want the stigma of labels on LGBTQ+ books removed and the texts made regularly available again.

A trio of Arkansas parents is suing the local county judge, quorum court, library board, and interim library director. They allege illegal censorship of children’s books about LGBTQ+ topics.

According to a complaint filed Friday in the United States District District Court for the Western District of Arkansas, the plaintiffs are Samantha Rowlett, Rebecka Virden, Nina Prater, and their minor children. It claims that certain books have been stigmatized by placing prominent color labels on them and separating them from other books in each library.

“Crawford County’s censorship of the ‘Social Section’ books arises from impermissible religious considerations, i.e., its extreme and malevolent view of the Bible, resulting in the County punishing the already marginalized LGBTQ+ community,” the suit asserts.

The government is violating the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment by promoting religion, according to the complaint.

A heated debate has been taking place in Crawford County’s quorum court regarding children’s access to LGBTQ+ media, the Arkansas Advocate reports.

After several residents complained about the LGBTQ+ children’s books, Deidre Grzymala, the library’s then-director, reached a compromise with the county governing body during its December 2022 meeting. As Grzymala explained to Tammi Hamby, chairwoman of the library board, each branch now has a “social section.”

“If there are any books that we missed, just alert the staff, and we can get it switched over,” Grzymala said. “We also put color label covers on the books for staff so that books do not get shelved in the wrong area.”

After the Crawford County quorum court meeting in December, Hamby and her husband, Jeffrey Hamby, expressed their strong opposition to children viewing LGBTQ+ content, the paper reports.

The couple described the content as “grooming a generation of children to feel this is normal and an accepted way of life.”

The Hambys wrote, “These children are too young to make those decisions, and it should be left solely up to the parents what they want their child to be taught concerning these issues."

They commended the “tentative agreement to remove the offensive books from the children’s section in the library and to work on a permanent solution to the problem.”

Plaintiffs allege that the quorum court engaged in viewpoint discrimination by entering into the ‘tentative agreement.’

The complaint claims that none of the children’s books in question can be considered “grooming,” “pornography,” or “exposing children to explicit sexual ideas or imagery.”

According to the suit, among the books in question are a guide to LGBTQ+ Pride flags for children and a retelling of Cinderella with gay characters. The plaintiffs request that the Crawford County Library System conform its administrative controls and processes to those in effect in June 2022.

After Grzymala’s “compromise” with the quorum court in December, three of the five library board members resigned, including the previous chair, and the quorum court appointed Tammi Hamby as one of the new members. The entire board appointed her as the new chair.

According to the paper, Grzymala resigned in February, and the quorum court appointed former library system director Eva White as interim director.

White went viral for a lesson she taught in a video posted on TikTok and Twitter over the weekend. In it, she explains to a man who is concerned with “other” sexual orientations being depicted in books accessible to kids,


Retired library director CAME BACK TO WORK because of book censorship drama!! #crawfordcountyarkansas #crawfordcountylibrary #rivervalleycityelders #johnriordan #evawhite #tammiwithani #gentrywahlmeier #americanadvocatesforequality #bookbanningisunamerican #freedomofspeechandinformation #bookcensorhip #lgbtbooktok #librariesareforeveryone #christiannationalism @Last Week Tonight @Trevor Noah @Owen Morgan @Hemant @VICE @VICE News @cbsnews @nbcnews @We are a newspaper. @New York Post | News @BuzzFeed News

“There are a lot of parents that don’t want that introduced to their children,” he said.

White responded by attempting to impart a lesson.

“All people should be represented,” she said. “At least 20 percent of every library should be something that you do not want to read or to ever check out.”

She continued, “There are lots of things in my library that I wouldn’t touch with a 10-foot pole, but I will not take it out.”

“What are we supposed to do? Go to jail? Because that’s what we’re facing,” White said. “Don’t tell other people what they can check out and what they can’t check out. You check out what you want.”

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