PRATTVILLE — The number of parents protesting the inclusion of a number of LGBTQ+ children’s books at the Prattville Autauga Library is growing, with no signs of stopping.
Tension has built over the last month after 1819 News reported on several mothers expressing concern with LGBTQ+ children’s books in the library, available for any child to grab at will.
The mothers took five initial books to the library board, but the board delivered minute changes in classification to three of the books, a decision that was less-than satiating for those that opposed the books.
The small gaggle of mothers has grown since the initial reporting from 1819 News, and an assortment of men and women addressed the Prattville City Council on Tuesday evening.
Repeatedly, speakers clarified they were not seeking a total ban on the books. Instead, most said they would be content moving the content out of the children’s section and into a dedicated area where parents could consent to their children viewing the material.
After the first speaker opposed the books, councilman Blair Gornto asked why people were addressing the council since they had already established “there is nothing the city council can do on this matter.”
Council president Lora Lee Boone responded by saying they allow people to make public comments regardless of the content.
“While I am in agreement with you that they are speaking to the wind when the library committee is who they should be speaking with, that is where we are legally,” Boone said.
Several speakers pointed out that not only does the council choose half of the library board appointees, but the council also distributes funding and can pass ordinances prohibiting the types of books in question.
Matt and Laura Clark attended. Matt Clark is the president of the Alabama Center for Law and Liberty, a non-profit law firm with several key victories, especially in challenging COVID shutdowns and vaccine mandates.
“I know as well as you do that you have the power to do something,” said Laura Clark. “You do, you know it; you do not want to do it.”
She continued, “You adopt the policy. You create the ordinance. And, if you don’t, believe me, I am working on a bill right now with the legislature to make sure that happens, and I will ask that it’s named after Prattville; and that’s not a name you want.”
"What we do want is parents to be able to have informed consent with what they want their kids to get into,” Matt Clark said. “Our issue isn't that these books exist or that they’re in the library. It's that they’re flying under the radar and getting into kid’s hands.”
“Ladies and gentlemen, I don’t know if you’ve received bad counsel, but you do have the jurisdiction in order to step in and do something with the library," he added. "There is a statute on the books that does give the library discretion on how to handle things; that’s just common sense. But at the end of the day, the city council still has plenary power over the public’s safety, health and morals; those are classically known as the police powers.”
Matt Clark went on to detail some resolutions and ordinances that the council could pass to address the books. He also said the council could cut funding for the books in question or even replace the three appointees under the council’s purview.
One speaker, John Brown, said including the books is wrong because it lies to children, also pointing to the rapid increase in LGBTQ+ identifying youth, disproportionate to any increase found in adults.
“Why is it when a child is biologically shown to be one of the two genders, they can be whatever they want in their own mind?” Brown asked. “If a young, 90-pound girl is starving herself because she feels her body is 190 pounds, we don’t affirm the lie and celebrate that lie. If we truly love someone, we don’t affirm the lie; we affirm the truth.”
Several locals who supported the books’ inclusion also attended, many claiming the opposition wanted to relegate members of the LGBTQ community to the shadows.
“The rainbow warriors are here in Prattville, and we are not going anywhere,” said local resident Adam Hunt. “As long as you are fighting this issue, we will fight, too.”
“We are not asking you to ban books,” said Laura Clark. “We are not asking you to say that LGBTQ people don’t matter, don’t exist. You are going to hear that argument: ‘You just don’t want us to exist.’ Which has the logical acumen of a wife who is pregnant or on her period, looking at her husband who forgot to take out the trash and saying, ‘You just don’t love me anymore.’ [The] same amount of logic.”
Another supporter of including the books invited members of the LGBTQ community to go request more books, and to “make the library more gay.”
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