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Small Town Library Board on the Right Side of History

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Photo by Carolyn Wahlskog

An estimated 150 people gathered at the West Chicago Public Library on Monday, August 28th, to witness a victory for the LGBTQIA+ Community. The Library Board voted 6-1 in a nonbinding decision to allow the children’s book This Day in June to remain in the children’s section of the library.

The vote came about after a complaint was filed by Michaela Jaros, a West Chicago mother who wanted This Day in June to be removed from the library after one of her children asked to read the book. Mrs. Gerris was compelled to take action, because her belief is that the public library has no place in teaching the public about “controversial” issues.

Others who opposed the book argued that it promotes a gay lifestyle, and is “detrimental to the human psyche,” as Sandra Reynolds, the wife of the only board member to vote against the majority, put it. The opponents, an estimated 13 strong, were represented by the Illinois Family Institute, a conservative Christian organization who has been recognized by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group.

An overwhelming majority of the attendees were in support of the book remaining in the children’s section of the library. Organizations, including Illinois Stop Moving Backwards, Southwest Suburban Activists, and the ACLU of Illinois, had members present to advocate on behalf of the book.

Photo by Patricia Sutherland

Many heartfelt speeches were given by those in support of the book. Mary Black, a mother and veteran, stated: “I pray for the child who cannot see the world for what it is due to their parents’ need to control their vision.” Later, Daniel Lopez, a self-identifying transgender person, discussed their personal experiences. “I am a suicide survivor,” Lopez said. “If I had had this book back when I was younger…maybe then I wouldn’t have felt like this random freak.”

The board voted on the grounds that the library is responsible for giving the widest and most diverse selection of literature possible to their taxpayers. They also ruled on the grounds that they need to uphold the standards set forth by the American Library Association. David Reynolds, the one board member who voted against the notion, argued that he was elected to the board to represent his constituents, whom he presumed would be against the book.

Photo by Patricia Sutherland

Support from around the country poured into the walls of the West Chicago Public Library. Nancy Conradt, the president of the board, said that they had “received a huge variety of emails from around the country, most of them in favor of keeping the book on our shelves.” The ruling is a symbolic measure that will likely hold as precedent for future proceedings of this nature around the nation.

Upon hearing how the board ruled, the author of the book, Gayle Pitman, said through a Facebook post: “I feel so emotional right now. THANK YOU for showing up and speaking up!” In a subsequent comment, she stated: “Having books like this when I was a kid would have saved me a lot of angst. That’s why I write.” Pitman, a professor of psychology and women/gender studies at Sacramento City College, identifies as queer, and is a feminist. Her latest children’s book When You Look Out the Window was released this past June.

This Day in June is described on Goodreads as a “wildly whimsical, validating, and exuberant reflection of the LGBT community.” This beautiful children’s book is currently available for purchase on Amazon and at local book retailers across the country.

3 COMMENTS

  1. Well done, Jacob, and well done West Chicago. I’m off to purchase the book for MY library at home where it will occupy a place of honor next to The Hobbit and Gates of Fire. I very much look forward to sharing it with my new grand daughter soon.

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