Controversy surrounds LGBTQIA+ themed book at West Virginia public library

West Virginia

BUCKHANNON, W.Va. (WOWK/WBOY)— Controversy over a book has caused conflict in the Upshur County Public Library. Multiple news outlets have reported that an LGBTQIA+ children’s book, “Prince & Knight,” was banned from the Upshur County Public Library, but officials with the library’s board have said that the book is still in circulation.

A search of the library’s online catalog shows the book is in circulation at the library, but is currently checked out by a patron. The catalog shows its due date as December 18, 2019.

According to a library board official, the book was requested to be reviewed for acceptability by a library patron, which, according to regular library procedure, any patron can request any book be reviewed by the board for that reason. Until the board meets and discuss the book, the book remains in circulation, available to anyone.

More issues spread when the board did not discuss “Prince & Knight” during their meeting on Nov. 20. But, as per the “Open Governmental Meetings Act” of West Virginia:

“If a citizen or a member of the governing body raises a matter during a meeting which is not on the agenda, the item may not be discussed or voted upon at the meeting.  The item instead must be added to the agenda for a meeting to be held in the future.”

Since the library board’s agenda was already published for the event, they were unable to alter it to include a discussion regarding “Prince & Knight” during that meeting.

The ACLU stepped into the fray, issuing a statement urging the library board to reverse the ban on “Prince & Knight,” however, as the library’s catalog shows, the book is not banned and is still in circulation.

The release from the ACLU goes on to state that the meeting held on Nov. 20 was to determine the book’s fate, but, as mentioned with the Open Governmental Meetings Act, the board was unable to discuss “Knight & Prince” because it was not on the previously published agenda.

Andrew Schneider, Executive Director of LGBTQ+ civil rights organization Fairness West Virginia, said the organization is disappointed the library would even consider removing such a harmless book. “It’s important for LGBTQ families to see themselves represented in literature, and ‘Prince & Knight’ offers a powerful and important story that the children of Upshur County should be able to freely access,” Schneider said, “Books do not indoctrinate someone to change their sexuality. I grew up reading plenty of books about men and women falling in love and yet here I am – still a gay man.”

The story is written by Daniel Haack and illustrated by Stevie Lewis. School Library Journal called it an “illuminating fairy tale” for young readers.

It’s been so heartening to hear from all the local parents and community members who are standing up in support of the book and its celebration of love and acceptance. In many ways, it’s just like the brave prince and knight facing the dragon to protect the vulnerable citizens of their kingdom, and whatever happens, the children of Buckhannon will know they still have plenty of kind, loving and inclusive neighbors.”

Daniel Haack, the author of Prince & Knight

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