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League City to mess with its libraries

This is watered down from the original proposal, which was a true book ban situation, but it’s still bad and dumb and ominous.

At a packed League City council chambers Tuesday night, residents made their voices heard about a proposed resolution that would rewrite the criteria on which materials are allowed in the city library for children’s books.

Out of 63 speakers, only 10 supported the resolution during the citizens speaking portion of the meeting that lasted nearly two hours. The crowd overflowed into a separate city hall room watching on a monitor.

However, the council late Tuesday voted 4-3 to support the resolution.

Councilman Tommy Cones who backed the resolution, said: “We’re not trying to ban books by any means. I don’t want to take out books about the gay community, but I certainly don’t want minors to pick up a book and sit at a table and start looking at some of these pictures we were handed out tonight.”

John Bowen, another councilman, pointed out the lopsided nature of the speakers, adding: “I’m not saying that those who are for this are not here but they are not making their voice heard. To me if something is that important those people would come forward.”

One after the other, residents of various backgrounds and ages spoke against the proposal, which would prohibit the city from spending tax dollars to materials targeted to children under 18 that “contain obscenity”.

Former educators, school psychologists, current and former members of the library’s board of trustees told personal stories of how books enriched their lives, and in some cases, personal struggles, and spoke on the broader issues of censorship.

“I thought the days of book burning were over,” said one former teacher.

[…]

Many chided the resolution’s language which seemed to equate pedophilia with homosexuality, and others mocked the authors for its use of terms like “ideologue sexuality”.

“I looked it up and I got two hits,” said one, “and both were from the League City agenda”.

“No one has been able to tell me what ‘Ideologue sexuality” is,” said Saultczy Khobahlt Bleu before the meeting. Bleu, a League City resident, encouraged residents to attend Tuesday night’s meeting as a statement.

“I don’t think they knew what they were getting into and didn’t expect this kind of response (against the proposal).”

Kirsten Garcia, a former educator, spoke about how, as a young survivor of sexual assault, books helped her journey toward healing when she couldn’t tell her story to anyone.

“When you tell groups of people – whether they are survivors of rape, or pedophilia or whatever category they fall into – that literary (books) about them is not welcome we’re essentially telling them they are not welcome in the library,” Garcia said before the meeting. “When we start to exclude literature about certain groups of people, we are telling those people that their voices and experiences don’t matter.”

Councilmember Justin Hicks said the resolution is not a book ban.

The proposal, a third revision, is a watered down version of the original that would have prohibited the city from spending tax dollars on materials targeted to children under 18 that “contain obscenity.”

Authored by councilmembers Hicks and Andy Mann, the resolution would limit the use of tax dollars to purchase materials for the city library, specifically books aimed at children under age 18. Topics singled out for scrutiny in the resolution include gender ideology, pedophilia, rape and bondage, and “ideologue human sexuality.”

Opponents say the resolution, which has been revised three times since it was first made public, is an attempt to censor and leans heavily on materials that “contain obscenity,” a vague description some say is used to target LGBTQ-related and other perspectives.

From the earlier story, here’s what had been originally proposed:

Councilmembers Justin Hicks and Andy Mann added a proposed resolution to the agenda late last week that would prohibit the city from spending tax dollars on materials targeted to children younger than 18 that “contain obscenity,” specifically related to a list of five topics that include gender ideology, “idealogue human sexuality,” pedophilia, rape and bondage. It quickly made rounds on Facebook ahead of Tuesday’s council meeting.

[…]

After the initial agenda went out and before Tuesday’s meeting, Hicks and Mayor Nick Long told the Chronicle they planned to introduce a revised resolution that would only create a system for challenging books’ presence in the children’s section, Long said.

The original version of the resolution on the official council agenda as of midday Monday was not the final version, Hicks said. That version, which circulated on Facebook, proposed an auditor to review the books and send the report of “noncompliant materials” to city council, which could then vote for the city manager to restrict minors’ access to the books or “to remove the materials from circulation altogether.”

Hicks provided what he called an updated version of the resolution to the Chronicle that laid out a different process. People could bring challenges over books to a community standards review committee that would be created by the city council. The committee could then decide whether to restrict minors from accessing the book or remove it all together. A challenger would have the option to appeal the board’s decision.

Long said he will propose creating a 15-person committee, including seven members of the existing library board and eight members representing different sections of the community, including parents and educators, to review complaints. The council would then hear appeals of that committee’s decisions.

I too have no idea what “idealogue sexuality” is, but I do know that’s not how you spell “ideologue”. Maybe that’s why no one could find this alleged term on the internet. The people who showed up to this Council meeting to voice their opposition to this still-very-bad ordinance did a good job of saying what was bad about it, so I will just note that of the three Council members quoted in the story in support of it, two of them were just re-elected to League City city council, which has four-year terms. (Andy Mann was unopposed so he’s not listed there but you can find him in the Election Day report at harrisvotes.com. League City is in both Harris and Galveston counties, which is why the Harris vote totals are different than what you see in that tweet.) My advice is to make note of who supported this and who didn’t, and show up in equal force at their next election. Because (say it with me now) nothing changes until people like CMs Hicks, Mann, and Cones lose elections over the bad things they do.

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