BY MAIRE O’NEILL
A Los Alamos woman, Valerie Fox, is requesting that Mesa Public Library remove the children’s book “If You’re A Drag Queen And You Know It” from its collection. Los Alamos County Community Services Director Cory Styron will address the issue at Monday evening’s County Library Board meeting. The book, which is listed on amazon.com, is written by Lil Miss Hot Mess and Olga De Dios Ruiz and was published in 2022. The Amazon listing indicates it is suitable for ages 2-7.
A screenshot of the book’s cover. Courtesy amazon.com
Fox filed a request for reconsideration of library resources in February saying the book’s entire theme is not age appropriate.
“The library should not be soliciting minors in such a manner. This is an attempt to normalize mental health issues and behavior that deviates from the norm,” she said. She also said it is “inappropriate thing to cartoonize and provide to children”.
Fox asked the library to stop putting the book in question and “other LGBTQ books” and “paraphernalia such as political Pride bookmarks on display in the children’s section”.
Asked on the form if there are resources she would suggest that provide additional information and/or viewpoints on the topic, Fox responded that the librarians are “targeting minors with adult topics (LGBTQ). Many families are upset and scared to be ostracized for speaking out. Taxpayers should not have to avoid taking their kids to the library due to inappropriate displays” She said the Pride bookmarks are political and “pushing the normalization of sexual lifestyles that many do not agree with.
“The library should not be soliciting everyone’s children like this as it undermines parental authority and the religious beliefs of many in the community,” Fox said.
A note on the bottom of the request form reads, “Many in this community have thanked me for my public stance on this and against indecency with children”.
Library Manager Gwen Kalavaza responded to Fox noting that library staff curate displays as a way to draw attention to a wide variety of materials and information available at the library.
“Displays are never political or an attempt to push an agenda but instead to educate and inform,” she said. She added that all newly-acquired items are also placed on display for a period of time, which is why the book in question was on display in the fall.
“Library policies support intelligence, freedom, the right of every individual to both seek and receive information from all points of view without restriction,” Kalavaza’s letter states.
She also quoted the library’s policy which states that parents or guardians are responsible for their children or wards and “only they may restrict their reading, viewing and listening habits”. She said the library cannot enforce “parental restrictions”.
Kalavaza acknowledged that there are items, displays and services in the library that some may find objectionable.
“Not everyone, however, finds LGBTQ materials objectionable. In face we often receive comments on how diverse and inclusive our library services are,” she told Fox.
On receipt of Kalavaza’s letter, Fox wrote a letter to Styron appealing the determination. In it she claims “drag queens are never appropriate for children” and that Pride is a political movement and as such “tax dollars should not be used to promote it”. With regard to the library’s policy on not enforcing parental restrictions, Fox said “the library has taken away parents’ ability to keep sexual themes that deviate from the norm” from kids by putting LGBTQ resources on display.
“Furthermore, the library would not put on display in the children’s section blatantly pornographic material, KKK or Proud Boy books or paraphernalia as that would be socially and age inappropriate to do so,” Fox said.