As the St. Marys City Commission continues to push for leaving a regional library system over a book about a transgender kid, one member declared “transgenderism is not a truth.”
Richard Binsfield, the commissioner who made those comments at a Nov. 1 meeting, also said “a man is a man, and a woman is a woman.”
Binsfield said it is his duty to take action since the book remains in the library. “We can’t let this go on in the community if there is something we can do about it,” he said.
ST. MARYS, Kan. – Transphobic citizens and free thinkers squared off at St. Marys City Commission meeting Tuesday night to fight for their library.
Commissioners voted to defer a decision on the lease, which expires Dec. 31, until their next meeting. The discussion also includes moving to a city-run library. This drastic and fascist move was brought about over a book about a transgender teen. The city threatened to shut down the library if they included this one book feeling that it is far better that their children grow up stupid and illiterate rather than be exposed to more ideas and relevant information.
St Marys is a small community just north west of Topeka. It is where many of Topeka’s Police officers go to live to escape the crime and dangers of the city they are hired to serve and protect. St Marys has long been a center of ultra-conservatism and white supremacy.
The library issue first surfaced at the Aug. 16 city commission meeting when Commissioner Matthew Childs requested adding a “morals clause” to the building lease the city has with Pottawatomie Wabaunsee Regional Library because of the St. Marys branch’s inclusion of a book called “Melissa.” That book, formerly entitled “George,” deals with transgender issues.
A crowd of about 100 people packed Tuesday’s commission meeting, where the commission was set to consider renewing the lease for the Pottawatomie-Wabaunsee Regional Library headquarters in St. Marys. What’s usually a formality drew debate recently, however, when a parent lodged a complaint over a book in their catalog.
Judith Cramer, who works for the library system, said the library respects the complaint, but as a public library it is their duty to include all material.
“We are conservative and respectful of the community and the fact that we know that that is where they are coming from, but we are a public library and public libraries are a reflection of the world we live in so we have to have something for everybody and that doesn’t mean everybody has to have it,” Cramer said.
Cramer invited people who support the library to turn out to Tuesday’s meeting to voice their views. Several did, saying parents have options to keep their children from accessing materials they do not feel are appropriate, but closing the library is not the answer. The parent who lodged the complaint also spoke, saying they did not want the library to close.
Two people expressed support for a city-run library, saying it was an issue of morality.
Commissioners did briefly discuss options, including a temporary lease extension with oversight of the books offered, and establishing a library oversight board.
Not only would the decision impact St. Marys, but staff also said it would affect the library system’s locations in Westmoreland, Olsburg, Harveyville, Alta Vista, Alma, Onaga and Eskridge. According to staff, without the library, residents in St. Marys and the surrounding area would lose access to:
“One thing I would like to say,” he continued, “is that if you’re concerned about a book that has illicit language, the Holy Bible talks about all kinds of illicit sins that took place. There’s pictures of the Sistine Chapel, women’s breasts were shown. Now, what are you going to do to tell your kids whenever that comes your way? How are you going to explain that?”
Borgerding thanked Wexielman for his comments, adding “with that, we’ll carry this one forward. We’ll take a look at some of those options.”
The PWRL has eight locations in Pottawatomie and Wabaunsee counties — Alma, Alta Vista, Eskridge, Harveyville, Olsburg, Onaga, St. Marys and Westmoreland. The St. Marys branch serves as the headquarters, and the lease on that building is up the end of this year. It levies a tax on the residents of those counties, excluding the Wamego city government.
The next City Commission meeting at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 6, at City Hall, 200 S. 7th St.