RUBIO, COLLEAGUES DEMAND INVESTIGATION INTO POTENTIAL FIRST AMENDMENT VIOLATION BY THE AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION
The American Library Association (ALA) has received millions of dollars in taxpayer funds, including for the promotion of community engagement activities around libraries. However, in June 2023, the ALA provided guidance on how to prevent story hours held by Brave Books, a Christian children’s book publisher, from happening at libraries. Meanwhile, the ALA has continued to promote inappropriate “Drag Queen Story Hours” that expose minors to sexual topics.
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and colleagues sent a letter to Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) Director Crosby Kemper demanding an investigation into the ALA’s potential use of taxpayer dollars to silence Brave Books, a potential violation of the First Amendment, while also promoting “Drag Queen Story Hours” at public libraries.
- “As a recipient of federal funds, the ALA is prohibited from using taxpayer dollars to violate the First Amendment. However, it appears the ALA is ignoring this prohibition for the sole purpose of silencing Brave Books while simultaneously also advocating for ‘Drag Queen Story Hour.’”
- “While disagreements pertaining to ‘Drag Queen Story Hour’ in public libraries will assuredly continue, Brave Books deserves the same opportunity to host and organize events in public libraries as other groups, including those that the ALA has taken an aggressive role promoting.”
The full text of the letter is below.
Dear Director Kemper:
We write to urge the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to take swift action in light of the American Library Association’s (ALA) blatant discrimination against religious publishers.
It was recently revealed that the ALA, as part of their Library 2023 Worldwide Virtual Conference, gave guidance on how to deny the ability for individuals to assemble in public libraries to hold events organized by religious publishers. Specifically, the ALA is purportedly attempting to hinder the ability of Brave Books, a faith-based children’s book publisher, to access public libraries to host events with parents and children to teach kids about “faith, hope, and love,” as well as “pray[ing], sing[ing], and read[ing] Brave Books and other books of virtue.”
The ALA claims that Brave Books seeks to “censor LGBTQIA materials or disparage or silence LGBTQIA library users, [and] exploit the open nature of the library to advance their agenda.” To the contrary, the ALA is advancing a political agenda, not Brave Books. Further, the ALA is doing so while receiving federal funds and actively promoting hotly contested events in public libraries, including “Drag Queen Story Hours” – events aimed at having scantily and/or exotically clothed adults read to children with the goal of introducing them to sexualized topics. The ALA has an entire page dedicated to “Drag Queen Story Hour,” which includes a program session labeled “Reading Fabulously.”
Over the course of several decades, the ALA has received millions of dollars in taxpayer dollars. Ironically, the ALA has been given federal funds for “free community engagement training.” As a recipient of federal funds, the ALA is prohibited from using taxpayer dollars to violate the First Amendment. However, it appears the ALA is ignoring this prohibition for the sole purpose of silencing Brave Books while simultaneously also advocating for “Drag Queen Story Hour.”
Public libraries must remain open to the public, and their availability should not be subject to the political whims of the ALA. While disagreements pertaining to “Drag Queen Story Hour” in public libraries will assuredly continue, Brave Books deserves the same opportunity to
host and organize events in public libraries as other groups, including those that the ALA has taken an aggressive role promoting.
The ALA is actively discriminating against Brave Books on account of their faith and is likely doing so with taxpayer funds. Given the ALA’s blatant acts of discrimination against Brave Books, we urge the IMLS to investigate this matter. Further, we demand that all current funds, as well as considerations for all future federal funds, to the ALA be immediately halted until such an investigation into the ALA’s conduct has concluded. The ALA should not be eligible to receive federal funding should an investigation find that the ALA violated the First Amendment rights of Americans.
Thank you for your attention to this matter. We look forward to your prompt response.