Pride issue remains a hot topic with library board

Published: Sep. 13, 2021 at 11:05 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 14, 2021 at 5:37 PM CDT
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JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - A Craighead County Jonesboro Public Library board meeting Monday night ended with citizens voicing their concerns and a board member stepping down.

Amanda Escue resigned from her position, stating she and her family had moved to Randolph County.

“I’m going to resign tonight, and I’m going to let someone take this spot,” she said. “And I think they’ll do a good job.”

Her decision followed months of heated debate over a June pride display in the library’s children’s section.

Escue claimed she had received hate mail since proposing in August that the board approve all sensitive content.

“I hear about compassion and love, but I’ll tell you, I have received a glitter bomb within the last week in the mail,” she said. “I received a sack of poop in the mail today.”

Escue argues that sensitive content, including sexual or romantic attraction, topics of gender theory, and family planning, should first be approved by the board so that the library is “considerate of the parent’s role.”

Library Director David Eckert calls it censorship.

“You’re going to put certain material in certain spots that are going to make it more difficult to find that material,” Eckert said. “That is still censorship. Don’t kid yourself. When we put stuff behind our desk, that is censorship.”

The library was packed Monday night with people on both sides of the issue. The board heard from eight of those in the audience.

Among those who spoke out was John Caldwell.

“I dream of a world where this argument that we are having today will make us laugh at ourselves and dismiss it as insanity,” he said.

Caldwell said he was raised in a very religious household and was beaten and abused for his sexuality. He said kids like him will benefit from LGBTQIA+ materials.

Lexie Brenton said she knew she was part of the LGBTQIA+ community since she was seven.

“We do not need another generation of children growing up learning to hate themselves like most gay kids learn to do,” said Brenton. “There are kids dying due to the hate we receive because of the publics’ lack of education on gay people and the lack of representation.”

The board tabled two proposals requiring it be given a three-month notice of purchasing “sensitive content” and having guest performances of sensitive nature. The board will meet again on Oct. 11.

Editor’s Note: Due to reporter error, we initially stated Ms. Escue resigned her position following hate mail she reportedly received regarding the pride display. We regret the error.

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