Public library staff across Ireland have been advised to secure their buildings and alert Gardaí when protests trying to remove LGBTQ+ books from shelves initiate.
Over the past several weeks, there have been a worrying number of reports of people entering public libraries across the country and objecting to the presence of queer reading material in the young adult section of the libraries. Library staff have been subjected to intimidation, slurs and videos of them being recorded without their consent.
The protestors identify themselves as members of the Irish Education Alliance, Parents’ Rights Alliance, and Lawyers for Justice. They falsely claim that these young adult books promote “gender ideology and pornography” and violate the Children First Act (2015). On their platforms, these groups have instructed their followers to enter public libraries, take photos of LGBTQ+ books in the aged 12-17 sections, and report them to local Garda stations.
Some of the books being targeted by these anti-LGBTQ+ library protests include This Book Is Gay by Juno Dawson; What’s the T? by Juno Dawson; Yay! You’re Gay! Now What? by Riyadh Khalaf; Sex Ed: An Inclusive Teenage Guide to Sex and Relationships by The School of Sexuality Education; and Trans Teen Survival Guide by Owl and Fox Fisher.
A Local Government Management Agency (LGMA) spokesperson who manages public libraries told The Irish Times that they are aware of the protests and that some libraries have been offered support to protect staff members’ well-being and to help deal with the incidents.
A tiny minority are trying to drag us backwards…and you know what, we've lived there already and it was rubbish. Ireland is a progressive, inclusive society – let's leave it at that. https://t.co/MQmaUnoqEu
— Jennifer Whitmore TD (@WhitmoreJen) April 3, 2023
Library collections are categorised by age according to each library service’s collection development policy. Books are classified as Adult (18 and above), Young Adult (15-17), Young Adult (12-14), and Children (under 12). Age restrictions are currently in place, which require parental consent for anyone aged 12-17 to check out any books in the 12-17 section.
The spokesperson also said, “…parental consent is required when a child joins the library and further consent is sought before members move age category.” This means that any teenager who joins a library will be limited to a child membership category if they do not have parental consent to check out books in the 12-17 section.
— Cork County Council Library & Arts Service (@corkcolibrary) March 31, 2023
Despite the verbal abuse they have recently experienced, library staff in Cork have promised to continue offering queer books on their shelves.
At a Cork city council meeting in March, Labour Councillor John Maher re-emphasised that libraries “are safe, are centres of learning, are places of inclusion and diversity”, and he stressed that library staff will continue to have the council’s support.
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