The efforts to get queer-related books banned from Dearborn high school libraries continues. Those on both sides of the issue are planning to attend the Dearborn School Board meeting Monday, Oct. 10 to voice their concerns. In the meantime, in the wake of an angry pro-banning rally held two weeks ago, Dearborn Mayor Abdullah Hammoud — though he has no authority over the city’s school district — came out against the effort to ban books.
“Make no mistake: at their core, these are attempts to limit our freedoms and it will not stop there,” he said in a tweet. “The same dangerous ideology that once considered people like me ‘a problem’ in Dearborn is now being revived under the guise of preserving ‘liberty.’”
It’s my responsibility to ensure our children have the tools to create their own future. Our libraries serve as a gateway to knowledge, to imagination, and to possibility. When it comes to our city’s libraries, for the sake of our children, no book will be removed off the shelves pic.twitter.com/oEe9zocdGy
— Abdullah H. Hammoud (@AHammoudMI) September 28, 2022
Hammoud, the city’s first Arab American mayor, said the rally, which took place Sept. 25, was an effort by “bad faith actors” to divide the city. It was a subtle reference to groups such as Moms for Liberty, who have been staging similar debates across the country and petitioning the Michigan State Board of Education to set an example for local districts by coming out against the books they oppose.
Stephanie Butler was an organizer of the Sept. 26 rally, which attracted a crowd of over 400 mostly Arab American men, many carrying anti-LGBTQ+ signs — including one calling gay men “sexually perverted animals” — and yelling anti-gay slurs. Initially, Pride Source identified Butler as a member of Moms for Liberty, but printed an online retraction after she communicated that she has never been a member. On Oct. 2, Twitter user @KaseyHelton05 posted a screen shot, purportedly from Butler’s Facebook account, where she identifies herself as “Member of Moms for Liberty – Wayne County” as of May 22.
— Kasey Helton (@KaseyHelton05) October 2, 2022
Mitchell Robinson, an associate professor of music education at Michigan State University who researches education policy, said in an essay on EclectaBlog that the issue at point is not about porn in school libraries or efforts to sexualize children, as the rally speaker alleged.
“Groups like M4L are using this ‘manufactured crisis’ as an excuse to demonize LGBT kids and teachers, accuse teachers of being pedophiles and groomers, and weaken the reputation of public schools among the members of their low-information voting base,” Robinson said.
Robinson went on to say that the people who are attempting to get the books banned are “the same groups that fought against children wearing masks and getting vaccinated during a global pandemic.” Robinson said they are now also “targeting ‘content’ about anti-racism, trans, gay and lesbian students and teachers, and civil and human rights.”
“Moms for Liberty isn’t about *your* liberty, or your child’s education,” he continued. “It’s about their ability to decide what your child’s education should look like. Every parent is free to raise their children as they see fit–but they don’t have the right to determine how other parents raise their kids.”