(The Center Square) – Some Illinois Republicans want public libraries in the state to withdraw from the American Library Association.
Public libraries have been a hotly debated topic in recent months. Illinois became the first state to essentially ban book bans after Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a law limiting taxpayer-funded grants to libraries that don’t follow the ALA’s policies on prohibited materials.
“We refuse to let a vitriolic strain of white nationalism coursing through our country determine whose histories are told,” Pritzker said. “Not in Illinois.”
State Rep. Blaine Wilhour, R-Beecher City, said the governor’s comment is a false narrative of the left because there was never any talk of banning books.
“Nobody is banning anything,” Wilhour told The Center Square. “I have yet to see one of these books that is not still available to be sold and purchased. That’s a book ban. This isn’t a book ban, this is about age appropriate.”
School districts around the country have debated the age appropriateness of books such as “Gender Queer,” which includes images of the main character’s legs covered with blood; blood on the main character’s underwear from an occurrence of menstruation; a blood-covered tampon; a toy vibrator that led to “my first orgasm” as well as two illustrations of young people engaged in oral sex.
Wilhour is part of the Illinois Freedom Caucus, which is calling on public libraries in the state to withdraw from the Chicago-based ALA after their new president proclaimed herself to be a Marxist.
The Freedom Caucus said in April 2022, Emily Drabinski wrote in a Twitter post “I just cannot believe that a Marxist lesbian who believes that collective power is possible to build and can be wielded for a better world is the president-elect of @ALALibrary. I am so excited for what we will do together. Solidarity! And my mom is SO PROUD I love you mom.”
State Rep. Jed Davis, R-Newark, said the remarks should raise a red flag about the organization.
“I think it is extremely alarming and I think we should press pause and start to challenge these things because what once used to alarm us as Americans back in the 1950s is now becoming a normalization here in 2023,” Davis said.
The tweet does not appear on Drabinski’s page. Separate messages seeking comment from Drabinski and the ALA were not immediately returned.
Earlier this month, the Montana State Library Commission voted to leave the ALA because of Drabinski’s comments.
In a letter to the ALA, the commission wrote, “Our oath of office and resulting duty to the Constitution forbids association with an organization led by a Marxist.”
“I think you’ll see other states in the nation that have the courage to take that stand, and until we start to have courage to tell people no, you’ll continue to see freedoms erode in this nation,” said Davis.