In Jamestown, Michigan, the local public library has about six months until funding runs out and it may be forced to shut down.
Last week, residents voted against passing a millage, which raises property taxes, to fund the Patmos Public Library. What could make a town turn against its own library? Homophobic and hateful rhetoric — specifically, the false idea that kids books with LGBTQ characters are secretly about pornography or being used to abuse children, which has exploded in the conservative worldview over the last year.
“50% millage increase to groom our kids? Vote no on library,” read one sign seen around town before voters went to the polls.
Debbie Mikula, the executive director of the Michigan Library Association, said she believes the millage didn’t pass because the library has books with LGBTQ themes. “This is a full-out campaign against the library,” she said.
Two library directors at Patmos left this spring. One said it was because of online harassment and accusations of abusing children.
The library board has less than two weeks to get the millage back on the ballot for a vote in November. If they don’t, it’s likely the library will have to shut down permanently.
The people in Jamestown are “very, very conservative,” Mikula said, “and they are holding the library hostage.”