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LGBTQ+ librarians weary of ‘attacks’ on queer-themed books, claim physical assaults

But AP’s headline doesn’t quite match its story

A weekend report from the Associated Press highlights the alleged “banning” of LGBTQ+-themed books … and actual physical assaults queer librarians claim they’ve endured.

A problem, however, is that the AP headline — “LGBTQ+ librarians grapple with attacks on books – and on themselves” — doesn’t quite match the article’s content.

Worldwide Pride Month events are well underway to celebrate LGBTQ+ culture and rights,” writes the AP’s Claire Savage. “But it is coming at a time when people who identify as LGBTQ+ say they are facing increasing difficulties at work, ranging from being repeatedly misgendered to physically assaulted.”

But the story cites just one librarian, Idaho’s June Meissner (pictured), who claims “she” was assaulted by a man at the Boise Public Library who had asked for assistance, and ended up “taking a swing” at Meissner, a transgender woman.

Adding to the issue — making it “personal” for folks like Meissner — are the “growing calls for book bans” on queer-themed reading material.

The most challenged book for the third consecutive year is “Gender Queer,” which contains graphic depictions of sexual acts. But author Maia Kobabe claims the book is “unbelievably tame.”

“[The book] does touch on masturbation, sex toys, and sexual health,” Kobabe said, but “these are things that pretty much everyone will encounter in some form or other in their life.”

MORE: Syracuse U. professor defends sexually explicit K-12 book

Groups like Moms for Liberty have challenged “Gender Queer” and similar books due to their sexually explicit nature.

“The least interesting thing about a child should be their sexual orientation,” Moms for Liberty’s Tiffany Justice said. “Why are we flooding them with sexual content?”

The AP’s Savage notes state lawmakers across the country are “considering lawsuits, fines, and even imprisonment” for the distribution of books “some regard as inappropriate.” But most, if not all, such legislation pertains to keeping explicit (or, as Savage notes, “harmful” — quotes in the original) material away from children, as in Meissner’s home state of Idaho.

Meissner says this sort of “politicking” is “getting the general public riled up,” and as such “make things more dangerous and worse” for “her.” Chaz Carey, an Ohio children’s librarian who uses “they/them” pronouns, concurred saying book challenges “take a mental toll” on them.

The American Library Association’s Emily Drabinski, a self-described “Marxist lesbian” who believes climate change is a threat to libraries, added that “attacks” on books like “Gender Queer” are also attacks on LGBTQ+ people.

“To have my identity weaponized against libraries and library workers, the people and institutions I care about the most, has made it a difficult and painful year,” Drabinski said.

MORE: More classics removed from the classroom … because SOME book ‘bans’ are A-OK

IMAGE: Las Vegas Sun/X

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Dave has been writing about education, politics, and entertainment for over 20 years, including a stint at the popular media bias site Newsbusters. He is a retired educator with over 25 years of service and is a member of the National Association of Scholars. Dave holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Delaware.