Librarian Fights Back Against Conservative Groups’ Harassment Over LGBTQ Books
21:30 GMT 13.08.2022 (Updated: 21:32 GMT 13.08.2022)
Louisiana Association of School Librarians
Books covering controversial subjects have been a point of contention across the country. A Library in western Michigan was recently defunded by voters over the inclusion of LGBTQ materials. The issue has also come up in Texas, Florida, and Louisiana.
A Louisiana librarian is suing two conservative groups and the heads of the organizations for defamation over their social media posts relating to sexual health and LGBTQ-themed books available in the children’s section of school libraries.
Amanda Jones is the president of the Louisiana Association of School Librarians and is a middle school librarian herself. She is suing “Citizens for a New Louisiana” along with its leader Michael Lunsford and “Bayou State of Mind” run by Ryan Thames.
The lawsuit alleges that their posts caused mental distress, hurt her reputation, and put her, her colleagues, and the children at her school at risk of harm.
4 August 2022, 03:35 GMT
The conservative groups targeted Jones after she defended the books during a public Library Board meeting. According to reports at the time, around 50 members of the public showed up to that meeting with “the majority” supporting keeping the books where they are, while a significant minority supported moving them to a different section or banning them entirely.
According to the lawsuit, the Citizens for a New Louisiana Facebook page specifically named Jones and asked why she was “fighting so hard to keep sexually erotic and pornographic materials” in the children’s section of the library. The lawsuit also points out that the post included a picture of Jones surrounded by what appears to be a white and red target.
Another post by Bayou State of Mind shared a photo of Jones sitting behind a desk, alleging that she advocates teaching anal sex to 11-year-olds.
The lawsuit also alleges that Lunsford and Citizens for a New Louisiana falsely portray her as a pedophile and “one who supports dissemination of ‘pornographic materials’ to elementary school children.” It notes that the group also attempted to obtain information about her from her employer, including her personal records and all emails she received or sent. The lawsuit also accuses Thames of publishing her place of employment and threatening to show up there. It states that action put the children of her school and her colleagues at risk of violence.
5 July 2022, 18:55 GMT
Jones is asking the court for an injunction to prevent further harassment and defamation, compensatory damages, including from emotional distress, and punitive damages.
The books in question include “Sex is a Funny Word” by Cory Silverberg and Fiona Smyth, “Queer, 2nd Edition: The Ultimate LGBTQ Guide for Teens” by Kathy Belge and Marke Bieschke, “Dating and Sex: A guide for the 21st Century Teen Boy” by Andrew P Smiler, “It Feels Good to be Yourself: A Book about Gender Identity” by Theresa Thorn and Noah Grigni, “Polygamy” a collection of essays pertaining to Polygamy, edited by Stefan Kiesbye and “Transgender” a collection of essays and studies that presents both pro and counter-arguments about Transgender people and movements, edited by Tamara Thompson.
A final book, “Gay Parenting,” was listed for discussion but did not have an author listed, according to The Advocate.