The state of Texas is disaffiliating with the American Library Association (ALA) in protest of the national organization’s president, who is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America.
Republican Texas State Rep. Brian Harrison announced on Aug. 17 the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) will not renew its contracts with the ALA after Harrison called on the TSLAC to sever ties with the ALA over the election of President Emily Drabinski for the 2023-2024 term.
In July, Harrison sent a letter to TSLAC Commissioner Martha Wong urging the state organization to “do the right thing for hardworking Texas parents and taxpayers,” following Drabinski’s election as ALA president.
“I have been made aware that the American Library Association (ALA) has elected Emily Drabinski, a self-proclaimed ‘Marxist lesbian’ and member of the Democratic Socialists of America, as President,” Harrison wrote. “Texas should be leading the fight against Marxist ideology, not subsidizing it.”
Harrison’s description of Drabinski was based on a now-deleted social media post in which Drabinski wrote, “I just cannot believe that a Marxist lesbian who believes that collective power to build and can be wielded for a better world is the president-elect of @ALALibrary. I am so excited for what we will do together. Solidarity!”
Drabinski also referred to herself as a Marxist in a 2022 interview, in which she said, “I never thought in a million years they’d give a Marxist a chance.” In another interview last July with Red Fault, the blog of the Austin chapter of Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), she acknowledged she was a “member of DSA in name and contribution” but “not active in the movement.”
In his letter to the Texas library commission, Harrison also criticized the ALA for repeatedly approving materials for school library shelves that parents deemed as pornographic.
“The ALA’s ‘Office for Intellectual Freedom’ states that libraries can’t remove inappropriate books because ‘children and teens have the right to find the information they choose’ and ‘no one has the right to make rules restricting what other people use, or to make decisions for other families,’” he wrote. “This means the ALA may be undermining Texas statutes designed to protect children.”
Promoted as a nonpartisan, nonprofit membership organization that has existed since 1876, ALA is the world’s oldest and largest library association. The organization promotes libraries and library education internationally, with over 49,727 members as of 2021.
Texas’ decision to cut ties with the ALA follows similar actions by Montana and Missouri.
And in July, First Liberty Institute called for a federal investigation into the ALA over charges by Christian actor and children’s book author Kirk Cameron that the association advised libraries to find ways to block or sabotage his “See You at the Library” nationwide event on Aug. 5.
Jeremy Dys, senior counsel for First Liberty, stated in a press release: “While claiming to promote equality and diversity, the ALA is conspiring to deny access to thousands of citizens based upon open intolerance of their religious beliefs. Such actions are blatantly unconstitutional. Federal taxpayers should not be required to fund such bigotry and intolerance.”
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