Louisiana’s LGBTQ Crackdown Backfires as Library Board Fights Back

Three former St. Tammany Library Board of Control members, Bill McHugh, Anthony Parr, and Rebecca Taylor, have filed a federal lawsuit against the St. Tammany Parish Council after they were removed for trying to protect LGBTQ+ books.

Book Ban Controversy

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The lawsuit follows a year-long effort by the far-right St. Tammany Library Accountability Project to remove “sexually explicit” books, but they are primarily targeting LGBTQ+ themed books.

Removal of Board Members

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On May 4, the conservative-dominated parish council voted to replace five of the six library board members for non-compliance with their new agenda of banning books.

First Amendment Violation

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The former council member’s lawsuit claims that removing the board members was retaliatory and violated their First Amendment rights to speak out and resist the book bans.

Constitutionally Protect Activities

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In their defense, their lawyers claimed that “Plaintiffs were engaged in constitutionally protected activity when they spoke and acted at Library Bord [sic] meetings.”

Request for Temporary Restraining Order

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The former council members are seeking a temporary restraining order to continue serving on the library board while the case proceeds and to block the council’s resolution to remove them permanently.

Book Content Battle

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The lawsuit comes after a prolonged internal fight over appropriate library book content, where the St. Tammany Library Accountability Project attempted to ban over 150 books that mostly contained LGBTQ+ themes.

Months of Conflict

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Once the board members were removed, it culminated in months of contentious fights between the library board and conservative activists within the parish.

Contentious Vote

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The parish council voted to replace five board members and highlighted the need for staggered terms under state law, but the plaintiffs argue this was a pretext for their removal.

An Obvious Plow

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The defense said, “The concern over staggered terms was an ‘obvious ploy’ used to retaliate against their protected speech.”

Legal Basis

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The plaintiffs argue that their removal violates Supreme Court precedents protecting citizens’ rights to discussion, debate, and information.

The Spirit of the First Amendment

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The defense continued, “The State may not, consistently with the spirit of the First Amendment, contract the spectrum of available knowledge.”

Public’s Right to Information

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The lawsuit also claims that allowing the removed board members to continue working in the library would protect the public’s constitutional rights to receive information by maintaining access to the banned library books.

The Public’s Constitutional Rights

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The plaintiffs argued, “Allowing the members to continue serving would continue to protect the public’s constitutional rights to receive information by maintaining their access to library books.”

Preserving Board Integrity

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From these excerpts, it’s clear that the plaintiff’s case hinges on the idea that preventing the parish council from engaging in unlawful dismissal will preserve the integrity and independence of the Library Board.

The Larger Debate

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While the case may seem strong when reading their points, this debate surrounding the public’s access to LGBTQ+ books is part of a much larger nationwide conversation.

Negatively Impacting Youth

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Unfortunately these types of debates are happening all across the United States, with new legislation that has been shown to negatively impact the mental health of LGBTQ+ students by creating an atmosphere of silence and exclusion.

Louisiana’s Bill

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The most recent “Don’t Say Gay” bill passed came from Louisiana State Senators, who passed House Bill 122, which will effectively ban discussions of LGBTQ+ issues in schools. 

Stopping Heterosexual Discussions

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According to state Rep. Dodie Horton, the bill also prevents discussions of heterosexuality and cisgender identity to avoid any sexualized personal discussions in classrooms.

Inappropriate Discussions

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When supporting the bill, Horton said, “Having sexualized personal discussions between educators and students in our classrooms are not appropriate.”

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The post Louisiana’s LGBTQ Crackdown Backfires as Library Board Fights Back first appeared on Pulse of Pride.

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