Crawford County Library officials relocate books about homosexual, transsexual lifestyles

by Tina Alvey Dale ([email protected]) 3,528 views 

After concern was voiced by several residents, books with alternative lifestyle narratives opposed by a Christian group, are being moved in libraries in the Crawford County Library System to keep them out of unsupervised reach from children.

The River Valley Elders posted on their Facebook page that representatives were needed at the Crawford County Quorum Court Meeting Monday night (Dec. 19) in reference to books available at the Van Buren Public Library.

“Your presence is absolutely NEEDED TONIGHT to stand for righteousness, against evil, and for the innocence of our children! WE NEED TO PACK THE HOUSE! Please make time to attend public comment on removing  sexualized ideology in children’s books in the Crawford County Library,” the post noted.

The top two tenets of the Elders is to “encourage and seek to establish Biblical values in all areas of civil government and economic systems,” and, “Draft civil laws which reflect a Biblical worldview, Judeo-Christian values and ethics.”

The concern over books was initially raised by Dr. Jeffrey Hamby, a Van Buren family physician, and his wife, Tamara Hamby, in a letter to the Quorum Court and Crawford County Judge, dated Nov. 10.

“We are concerned about the agenda that is being pushed by the Van Buren Public Library, aiming education of alternative lifestyles to prepubescent children. We have friends and employees that choose to live alternative lifestyles that we love dearly. We do not agree with that lifestyle but acknowledge their right to live the way they choose to live. We are not trying to infringe on those rights in any way. Our issue is with the constitutional rights of parents and our religious liberties being infringed upon by this progressive woke ideology normalizing and equating homosexual and transsexual lifestyles with heterosexual family units,” the letter said. “And doing this without parental consent or the ability to opt out. They have purchased, with taxpayer money, several books about alternative lifestyles that are aimed at prepubescent children. Some of these books are available in board book form which tells you the age they are targeting.”

The letter continued by stating that there was a public display in the library with the books that “represents an agenda to indoctrinate our community but especially our children with this content.”

The books listed by the Hamby’s were: “The Big Book of Pride Flags;” “Cinderelliot, A Scrumptious Fairytale;” “Uncle Bobby’s Wedding;” “Bye Bye, Binary;” and “Mommy, Mama, and Me.”

Crawford County Judge Dennis Gilstrap said the key in all the discussion of the books was compromise, never censorship. Justice of the Peace Raymond Harvey said the issue is a hot topic, and though he does not agree with pulling the books completely, he does agree with the decision to move the books into the “adult” area where children will not have access to them without parents specifically wanting them to see them.

“We don’t want 9 or 10 or 11-year-olds to be able to walk to the library, go in and just see them,” Harvey said. “If parents want to get the books for their kids, then that’s their decision.”

Van Buren Library Director Deidra Grzymala said she believes everyone is reaching a compromise and the books have been moved to their own section at each of the Crawford County Library System’s five libraries.

“The courtroom was full. I think it (the meeting) went well. We were able to find an agreement,” Gilstrap said. “Compromise is the word they were going for. The people are the ones who approve the millage that funds the library. We have to keep the community in mind.”

Loss of millage is a threat faced by library officials. For example, Craighead County residents recently voted to slash the county’s library funding by 50%. The vote, held during the Nov. 8 general election, resulted in 54% voting to cut funding from 2 mils to 1 mil, and 46% opposing the cut.

The vote was initiated by elected officials and others after the library erected a display celebrating those who identify as LGBTQ. Several board members, Jonesboro community leaders and conservative politicians supported an oversight committee having final say on what is displayed at the library. The controversy at the Craighead County Library was so heated the library director and assistant director resigned.

Gilstrap said because of the issue, Crawford County Library System Board President Jamie Balkman, and the representative from Alma resigned from the board.

“This issue, this board, and control of the library has to be settled. We have to keep a neutral mind, but we have to listen to our community,” Gilstrap said, noting that he and Chris Keith, Crawford County Judge-elect, will work to appoint new members to the library board by the first of the year when a meeting is planned to address the book issue.

Harvey said the book issue would again be discussed at a meeting set for 4:30 p.m., Jan. 10, at the Van Buren Public Library, 1409 Main St.