Deep on the agenda for today’s Hood County Commissioners meeting is a topic that’s spurred national debate: same-sex marriage and LGBT-themed library books for kids.
This discussion comes two weeks after the Hood County clerk refused to issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple because of religious beliefs. The clerk later issued a statement that someone in her office would be available to issue same-sex marriage licenses.
More than 50 people in Hood County have complained about the LGBT books. They want to remove at least two books aimed at children from the shelves of the public library. Others want LGBT books for kids moved to another part of the library.
But last month, the library advisory board voted to keep the books with one minor change. County attorney Lori Kaspar said the library director moved one of the books, “This Day in June,” from the kids section to the parenting shelves.
“Because it had a large discussion section at the back with a lot of questions about how to talk to your kids about LGBT issues and things like that,” Kaspar said.
The other book, "My Princess Boy," remains in the children's section. Still, the comments and concerns keep coming. Kaspar said on Friday that some residents have asked that other LGBT children’s books be banned or moved.
“From what I understand, it’s been sort of a deluge of comments on the commissioners’ voicemails and emails of people that are both opposed to and in favor of the commissioners court taking some action on the books,” she said.
Both the commissioners and library director asked Kaspar for her legal opinion. She told them the decision had been made, and that there’s no appeals process.
Still, the commissioners decided to give residents a chance to speak out at today’s meeting.
Kaspar says the law doesn’t leave much wiggle room.
“If they choose to do something involving moving those books, restricting access to those books or removing those books from the library, they are going to have to show a compelling government interest in doing so,” she said. “And basically that standard means it’s going to have to be something obscene is what the case law says.”
Last week, the American Library Association sent a letter to the county urging that the books stay on the library shelves.
For the latest on Tuesday's meeting in Hood County, read this story.