AUGUST 8, 2022
Amberlyn Boiter • PFLAG Spartanburg •

Spartanburg County Constituents Say NO to State Lawmaker’s Proposal to Ban Books from Libraries

Legislators from Spartanburg County have threatened to remove public funding from the county’s own public library system in an effort to divide community over LGBTQ and racial justice issues. 

SPARTANBURG, SC –  Residents of Spartanburg County are speaking out against proposals to ban books that include themes of LGBTQ identity, racial justice, and more. Today a group of county residents attended a press conference hosted by an anti-LGBTQ lawmaker, sharing their vocal opposition to censorship and anti-LGBTQ fear-mongering.

The press conference was hosted by South Carolina state Senator Josh Kimbrell of Spartanburg County in front of the county library’s main headquarters. Sen. Kimbrell announced his intention to use the state budget to control the library’s contents. This includes removing funding from the library altogether if they do not comply. Kimbrell has made numerous comments on social media about material in the library that he claims to be pornographic but are usually simply inclusive of conversations about LGBTQ identity. This latest press conference comes as another step in the push by South Carolina legislators to restrict that state’s educational materials.

Earlier in 2022, the South Carolina community successfully rallied against the passage of H.5183 – a bill initially proposed to restrict classroom discussion of systemic racism, sexual orientation, or gender identity. This bill came on the heels of Florida’s HB1557, known widely as the “Don’t Say Gay / Trans” bill. Kimbrell claimed in a recent podcast interview with Palmetto Family Council that he wants to mirror what Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is doing in that state as it pertains to educational censorship.

Kimbrell already attempted but was unable to pass budget proviso 27.1, which would have withheld funding from public libraries whose children’s sections contained material supposedly deemed obscene. Many fear that a loose legislative definition of “obscene” can be used to culturally erase vulnerable minorities.

Amberlyn Boiter (she/her), Vice President of PFLAG Spartanburg, said today:

“These attempts to censor curriculum and ban books from libraries are absolutely thinly-veiled attempts to use children to harm the LGBTQIA+ community. As a transgender woman married to a cisgender woman, the reality is that my daughter has two moms. My daughter should be able to find age-appropriate content at her public library which reflects the facts of her and her peers’ lives – but Sen. Kimbrell’s proposal would ban any materials about two-mom or two-dad families, or any stories with LGBTQ characters. I would never discourage my daughter or any child from reading a book about ANY sort of family structure – all of our children should be able to access information about all sorts of families.”

Educators in the county also expressed concern. Chauntelle Hardin (she/her), a Teaching Assistant and Masters Candidate for Teaching Special Education at Converse University, said today:

“I feel if a book makes someone uncomfortable, they must address their own discomfort, not simply make a sweeping rule to keep a particular book (or books) away from the public. Part of education is helping our young people figure out where they fit in today’s world, helping them to see diverse groups of people, and empowering our young people to deal with complex topics with confidence and kindness. To simply say ‘this book is not appropriate because I find it offensive” is to reveal more about a person’s own personal fears and their own unwillingness to listen to an opposing viewpoint.'”

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PFLAG Spartanburg is part of the nation’s first and largest organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) people, their parents and families, and allies. With nearly 400 chapters and 250,000 members and supporters crossing multiple generations of families in major urban centers, small cities, and rural areas across America, PFLAG is committed to creating a world where diversity is celebrated and all people are respected, valued, and affirmed.   |