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Attempt Against LGMTQ Literature Fails Miserably As Community Rallies To Support

By: Benjamin He

The LGBTQ community hasn’t had it easy recently. While we have gotten more accepting towards our different genders and sexualities, there appears to be a sudden kindling of the flame of hate aimed towards the LGBTQ+ community.

And this flame found fodder in an unlikely place. Adrianne Peterson, manager of the Rancho Peñasquitos branch of the San Diego Public Library, was shocked to find that a protest had taken place against the library. More specifically, it was against the modestly-sized Pride Month display in the Children’s section.

Last month, she received an email from two residents that stated that they had checked out almost all of the library’s Pride Display books and wouldn’t return them unless the library removed what the emailers called “Inappropriate content.”

“‘To protect our children and the community, we have checked out all the books in the pride display,’” the letter wrote. “We plan to keep these books checked out until the library agrees to permanently remove the inappropriate content from the shelves. Flags, signs, and book displays based on how adults experience sexual attraction and gender identity have no place in an open and public space for children.”

“I began to wonder, ‘Oh, have I been misunderstanding our community?’” Ms. Peterson said.

Fortunately, after The San Diego Union-Tribune reported on the protest, stacks of Amazon boxes containing new copies of the books the protesters checked out started to arrive at the library. Over 180 people, most of whom were San Diegans, gave over 15,000 dollars to the library system, which after a city match will provide over $30,000 toward more L.G.B.T.Q.-themed materials and programming. An expansion of the system’s already popular drag queen story hours will also be taking place.

Right-winged activists that speak out against the LGBTQ community have questioned the recognition of June as “Pride month,” and in California and other states led by democrats, more and more “against LGBTQ+ community” acts are breaking out.

In North Hollywood, a neighborhood in Los Angeles, a pride flag was burned at an elementary school. Dueling protests days later over a Pride assembly devolved into scuffles outside the campus. In Temecula, a town not far from San Diego, the conservative majority of the school board twice rejected elementary school materials that discuss Harvey Milk, the slain gay rights leader, and L.G.B.T.Q. history before agreeing to acquire them after Gov. Gavin Newsom threatened to fine the school district $1.5 million for not complying with state standards. In Chino, the state’s superintendent of public instruction Tony Thurmond, was kicked out of a school board meeting on Thursday after criticizing a proposal by conservatives that would notify parents if a student asks to use a name or pronoun that does not align with their birth certificate.

In San Diego, city council member Marni von Wilpert who represents the library’s district, condemned the library protest against Pride books and asked the community to help restore the display.

Ms. von Wilpert grew up in Rancho Peñasquitos, winning the election to represent her community in 2020. She said that she greatly appreciated how quickly her neighbors came to support the library.

“Suburban, formerly conservative communities are still not buying into this culture war idea that we can’t have love and tolerance and acceptance,” she said. “That has been amazing.”

The San Diego residents who sent the email to the Rancho Peñasquitos Library, Amy M. Vance and Martha Martin, did not respond to requests for comment. City officials claimed that they have not heard from the residents.

It was found later that their email was identical to a template placed online by a group called CatholicVote, who is not directly affiliated with the Catholic church. CatholicVote has promoted a “Hide the Pride” campaign that encourages people to check out and move books that depict LGBTQ chracters, which they’ve described as phonographic and obscene, similar to what Ms. M. Vanc and Martin did.

Brian Burch, president of CatholicVote, stated that his group did not encourage supporters to do anything illegal, but claimed that it was perfectly fine to check out a book for an indefinite amount of time.

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