June 7, 2023

  • A Michigan town voted to defund its library because it had LGBTQ-themed books.
  • The vote came after some residents campaigned for months against the library.
  • Jamestown Township is a small but conservative stronghold in western Michigan.

A town in western Michigan voted this week to defund its library because it contained too many books containing LGBTQ themes.

According election results reviewed by Insider, Jamestown Township voted by a 25-point margin — 62.5 percent to 37.5 percent — to reject a proposal Tuesday that would have supported the local Patmos Library.

The proposal would have renewed and increased funding for library repairs and operations beginning in 2023.

Bridge Michigan Local News Site mentionted that the vote would void the library’s $245,000 budget because the majority of funding comes from property taxes.

But Tuesday’s vote came after a months-long concerted effort by local residents to punish the library for having LGBTQ-themed books, Bridge Michigan reported. But only about 90 of the library’s 67,000 books have those topics, library officials told Bridge Michigan.

The culture war drama began earlier in 2022 when a parent raised concerns about the book Gender Queer: A Memoir, the report said. This led to heated library board meetings and complaints about other books.

Local residents accused library officials of trying to “groom” children and “indoctrinate” them, the report said, urging others to vote against supporting the library. The director and interim director of the library eventually resigned.

A resident created one GoFundMe on Wednesday to raise enough money to keep the library afloat, calling it the “core of the community fabric.”

The resident described the effort to “defund” the library as “well-coordinated and vocal” and said “the group gathered anger because of the presence of some books about the LGBT+ community.”

The Patmos Library was not open Thursday and Insider could not immediately be reached for comment.

Tuesday’s vote reflects a nationwide trend targeting books with themes of racial or sexual identity in conservative areas or by Republican Party politicians, as the culture wars continue to boil over at the most local levels.

Jamestown Township is a small but conservative stronghold in the southeast corner of west Michigan’s Ottawa County. Just over 3,000 people — a third of the population of the city — voted in Tuesday’s election.

In the 2020 presidential election, Ottawa County voted for Donald Trump over Joe Biden by 20 points — 59.8% to 38.4%. Jamestown Township, however, vote for trump against Biden by a margin of 76 to 21 points.

“I didn’t expect anything like this,” Library Board President Larry Walton told Bridge Michigan. “The library is the center of the community. It’s very disappointing for short-sighted people to close it because of anti-LGBTQ.”

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