GREENVILLE, S.C. (AP) — Officials in South Carolina’s most populous county are scheduled to vote Tuesday on a resolution that would restrict children from accessing public library books and electronic materials that are “promoting sexuality.”
Local news outlets report the proposed Greenville County Council measure would direct trustees of the Greenville County Library System to order books and electronic materials removed from the county’s 12 libraries. The resolution also orders the library trustees to report “how such books ever found their way into the children’s sections of our public libraries” and to say how they will prevent them returning.
As is true nationwide, controversies over materials dealing with LGBTQ and racial themes have been roiling South Carolina schools and public libraries for a year, particularly in the heavily Republican Upstate region.
A large number of opponents spoke against restricting books during a Greenville County Council meeting in September, saying it targets books with LGBTQ themes.
“These materials are not innately sexualized, they are not innately about sex, they are just about who we are and those should continue to exist,” Tyler Prescott of the Upstate LGBTQ+ Chamber of Commerce told councilors then.
Republican Councilor Joe Dill, who is sponsoring the resolution, said in September that the county needs to also consider other people who are offended.
Greenville library trustees have also debated the issue, announcing this month that a committee would develop a policy to preserve the system’s “neutrality” on LGBTQ and other disputed issues. In the meantime, library trustees voted to drop names from library-affiliated book clubs after the formation of the LGBTQ-themed Rainbow Book Club.
The controversy began in June when LGBTQ Pride Month displays were removed from a county library branch. The displays were later replaced, but the debate over LGBTQ materials continued.
The Greenville County Republican Party passed a resolution on Sept. 12 asking that materials be removed.
A year ago, Republican Gov. Henry McMaster urged Republican state Superintendent Molly Spearman to investigate the presence of “sexually explicit and pornographic” books, citing the removal of “Gender Queer” from Fort Mill schools.
In September, the Pickens County school board voted unanimously to remove the book “Stamped: Racism, Anti-racism, and You” for at least five years, after complaints that its discussion of the history of white supremacy was anti-white.
In August, Republican state Sen. Josh Kimbrell, backed by the conservative Palmetto Family Council, threatened to cut off funding to Spartanburg County libraries if it didn’t remove all books that depict sex, gender identity or even cartoon nudity from its children’s sections.