A Macon county library recently did what all good libraries do, they put up a timely display offering books celebrating members of the community. Because June is Pride month, the seasonal display offered a few books by LGBTQ+ authors and a couple of tiny pride flags on a small three-tiered shelf.
Macon County Commissioner Paul Higdon did not like it. In fact, he pulled his support for pay increases for library workers citing the display as his reason for denying the raises. “If you want to celebrate divisive things like gay pride or whatever, then do it, but do it on private property,” said Higdon at a June 7 budget work session.
In the meeting the board discussed a $20,000 funding increase, that would come out of the county’s contingency fund, to increase staff salaries in order to keep up with inflation. After Higdon’s homophobic rant the board consensus was to leave the budget as is, without the proposed funding increase.
This ugly discrimination is just one of a string of campaigns targeting LGBTQ+ communities across North Carolina and the nation. From protesters at Pride events, book bans featuring LGBTQ+ characters, to bans on Transgender athletes, right-wing extremists are creating a culture war that targets the most vulnerable among us.
Republican lawmakers are also working hard to marginalize LGBTQ+ youth with the recently proposed House Bill 755. This North Carolina version of Florida’s “don’t say gay” bill is aimed at erasing LGBTQ+ voices from school curriculum, putting a target on our already under-resourced educators, and requiring mandatory reporting to parents if a student, regardless of grade, begins to question their sexual identity in school.
In community spaces like libraries and schools, shouldn’t all community members feel included and welcome? If the loud discriminatory voices have their way our public spaces will be taking giant steps backward into a discriminatory past that the majority of us do not want.