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Millage vote for Ottawa County library to return amid debate about LGBTQ+ books

Some opponents of the millage say they voted no because of the few LGBTQ+ related books the library had recently promoted.

JAMESTOWN CHARTER TOWNSHIP, Mich. — In Ottawa County, voters in Jamestown Township will have another chance to decide funding for a library, after a unanimous vote Monday night by the library board. The millage to fund the library failed in the August primary. 

Monday's meeting at Patmos Library was highly attended, with the topic of funding being a big talker over the last week. Many of the voters who chose "no" pointed to the library's promotion of books for the LGBTQ+ community. At the meeting residents on both sides of the argument took to public comment to make their case to the board.

Public comment lasted more than an hour, with a majority of the speakers showing support for the library.

"In a democracy, book challenging and banning is a slippery slope," one resident said. "What might be next on the list?"

A no-vote on the millage last week could now lead to the library's closure. Supporters asked for the vote to return to the ballot, asking for the community to be more inclusive.

"We need to understand that there are other people in this country that are allowed voices and are allowed representation and resources and that its ok," said one resident. "That we can live together."

Some opponents of the millage say they voted no because of the few LGBTQ+ related books the library had recently promoted, saying those subjects should be taught by parents.

"When did it become a library's duty to be obsessive about gender and sexuality for children?" said one resident. "It's a parent's job to ensure that their children grow up to be stable and self confident."

One speaker, the mother of a transgender child, says books like that are important in a public place to show acceptance in the community.

"It hurts me so bad that I now have to homeschool my child because your kids bullied him so much," she said.

Multiple people who voted no on the millage say they were unaware that the library faced closure if the millage did not pass, and hope to see it remain open but without those books available.

"I'm concerned with the direction this library is going and I voted no to send a message," said a resident. "Please keep the library open, but change the way that we're making decisions on books." 

After discussion from the board, they voted unanimously to put the millage back on the ballot in November's general election. Waiting until next year would have cost the library an additional $8,000.

The library says it's seeking a renewal of its current millage, as well as a slight increase of one-tenth of a mil so that it can become self-sufficient and not rely on the township.

One board member said they want to see a larger turnout representing the whole community, instead of the small portion who voted in the primary.

    

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