Michigan library defunded over LGBTQ books hits $245,000 on GoFundMe

(The Center Square) – A GoFundMe fundraising site has garnered more than $245,000 in support of a Michigan library for about a year after voters rejected its millage, angry over LGBTQ books.

Patmos Library in Jamestown Township faced closure next year after voters rejected an Aug. 2 library millage renewal in protest of some graphic LGTBQ content in the library’s collection, The Center Square reported in early August.

After seeing the millage results, resident Jesse Dillman started a GoFundMe account that less than one month later has more than replaced the library’s $245,000 operating budget.

“I’m extremely happy with the huge outpouring of support the library has received, both the encouragement and the GoFundMe donations,” Dillman told The Center Square in an email. “It’s clear that people recognize the importance of public spaces for community, and are willing to stand up to protect them and defend against ignorance.”

Romance novelist Nora Roberts gave Patmos Library a $50,0000 donation to break its goal, fueled by more than 4,000 other donors.

“As for what’s next, the Jamestown community has put together a millage committee, which I am now volunteering with,” Dillman said. “We have efforts well underway now to combat misinformation and encourage the majority of residents who support Patmos Library. John Chrastka from EveryLibrary is working directly with the library to get the GoFundMe money transferred and used in the best way possible, but I am personally hands-off with those decisions at this point.”

At issue are a few LGBTQ books in the Patmos Library, including a graphic novel titled “Gender Queer: A Memoir” by Maia Kobabe, a writer using the eir pronoun. The book discusses the author’s gender fluidity and sexuality, and several panels feature graphic illustrations of sexual activity. The library offers more than 67,000 books.

Some parents objected and created a Facebook page to garner opposition to the library millage vote.

A group calling itself The Jamestown Conservatives formed “to help others of the community to be aware of the pushed agenda of explicit sexual content that is being infiltrated into our local libraries aiming toward our children,” according to its Facebook page.

Dillman blamed small voter turnout and a coordinated movement via Facebook to swing the “no” vote. However, he maintains that most of the 10,000 residents support the library.

Dillman has said Patmos library is a “core part” of their community. He, his wife, and his kids frequent the library weekly to rent books and puzzles and attend free events such as dancing classes.

The struggle over what content is accessible to children, whether in schools, libraries, or other publicly funded institutions has augmented and divided parents since the COVID-19 pandemic. The same content that some people identify as free speech and expression, others claim is grooming children or exposing them to explicit, sexual material.