‘Rapides Parish FREADom Fighters’ oppose proposed library policy change

Published: Jan. 9, 2023 at 11:10 PM CST
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RAPIDES PARISH, La. (KALB) - With one week until the Rapides Parish Library Board of Control votes on a proposed collection development policy amendment, a local group, the Rapides Parish FREADom Fighters, took their protest of the change further than December’s board meeting.

“What is the purpose of this situation?” asked Remi Tallo, one of the group’s organizers. “The policy that’s already in place seems to be sufficient. We don’t understand why it’s being changed.”

The amendment was authored by member James Morgan, the board appointee for District G. Morgan was appointed to the Board of Control on Sept. 6, 2022, by Rapides Parish Police Jury member Sean McGlothlin.

The proposal seeks to prohibit materials containing obscene or sexual content, including content regarding sexual orientation and gender identity, from children and teen sections of the library.

Morgan has argued the amendment would not place restrictions on what can be included outside of the adult and teen collections, emphasizing in remarks at the December board meeting that it does not intend to “ban any books from our library whatsoever.”

Rather, Morgan argues that the amendment is about placement, specifically the placement of materials falling under the parameters of the proposed change in a different section of the library.

While the amendment drew significant support at December’s board meeting, it also drew significant criticism.

Ty Cedars, a member of the Rapides Parish FREADom Fighters, argues that the proposal initiates a “soft ban.”

“It’s very clearly a soft ban,” said Cedars. “Because if we take a children’s book out of the children’s section of the library and move it into the adult section of the library, that’s a book that’s not going to get seen by the eyes that need to see it. So, that’s a book that’s not going to get checked out. And when a book doesn’t get checked out, it eventually gets removed from circulation.”

“When you categorized sexual orientation or gender identity as offensive material, that says that the LGBT community is itself offensive,” said Cedars. “We are just as much a part of this community as anyone else is.”

The local group does not only consist of those in the LGBTQ community but also those who felt the amendment was too vague, contradicts the library’s current policy and infringes on the rights of parents.

“I think the people of Louisiana are very cultured and very diverse, and I think that we’re very open-minded, no matter what people would try to say that we are,” said Tallo. “We’re a pretty cohesive community, and you can see that whenever things like hurricanes happen, or natural disasters. We kind of get together and make stuff happen. I think this is a very similar situation to that.”

The group began circulating a petition online and around the community, requesting signatures in opposition to the proposed amendment. The count has rapidly increased over the past two weeks, having garnered more than 800 signatures.

“This petition shows that Rapides Parish, and the people of Rapides Parish, are behind us in this and that we are a valuable member of this community,” said Cedars.

Whether the opposition wins out will be determined on January 17 at the next RPL’s Board of Control meeting. That meeting will take place at the Westside Regional Library at 3:30 p.m.

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