With midterm elections rapidly approaching, Republicans are doing their best to demonize LGBTQ+ people—and this includes, among other efforts, banning books from public schools and libraries. Why? Because books are an accessible way for young readers (and adults, for that matter) to learn about themselves and others and to develop empathy and compassion. No matter one’s identity, readers can gain an enormous amount of perspective and context just by sitting down with a book. Suddenly people who have been presented as scary or “other” are… just like you. And really, that’s exactly what conservatives are afraid of.

A recent horrifying example of the book ban hysteria comes to us out of Michigan. Residents in Jamestown Township voted 67 to 32% to defund the Patmos Library over its inclusion of LGBTQ+ books for youth.

How did this happen? Folks voted against renewing a millage (a share of property taxes that provides the majority of the library’s operating budget) for the 2023 fiscal year. Library staff recently refused to pull a handful of queer texts from the library (including Maia Kobabe’s graphic memoir Gender Queer) and have faced hysterical efforts to defund the library ever since.

“I wasn’t expecting anything like this,” Patmos Library Board President Larry Walton told local outlet Bridge Michigan after the vote. They added that individuals being so “short-sighted” to close down a library, which they describe as a center of the community, over LGBTQ+ issues is “very disappointing.”

“Disappointing” puts it lightly. It’s downright scary. First of all, to be so hateful toward LGBTQ+ folks that you’re willing to lose public resources for the entire community is intense. It worries me for openly queer folks who live or work in that area in terms of discrimination as well as violence.

In addition to young readers losing out on valuable books, everyone is losing out on access to precious public resources. Libraries provide what so many people struggle to access—free internet, free books, free movies, free audiobooks, and ebooks.

Libraries also provide free bathrooms and free air conditioning. They provide a free space to simply sit without having to buy anything. Libraries are precious, and their value to any given community can simply not be overstated.

And for the library staff? Well, at least two have already resigned due to alleged harassment stemming around, you guessed it, queer books. As covered by LGBTQ Nation, library director Amber McLain resigned after folks not only sent disparaging messages to her personal Facebook account, but someone allegedly entered the library asking for the ‘pedophile librarian.” Yikes!

Interim director Matthew Lawrence replaced McLain before resigning shortly after as well, adding that what’s happening with book bans is violating the First Amendment. He added that children are those who need the library the most, and they can’t even vote because they are, again, kids.

But that didn’t stop conservatives from pushing anti-queer “grooming” rhetoric, as evidenced in this photo.

This hate is downright scary—and dangerous for everyone.