BROOKSVILLE (Suncoast News) – Three hundred dollars.

Those are the dues Hernando County Library System would be paying to the American Library Association.

Citrus County recently ended its membership in the American Library Association, with speakers at a special library advisory board meeting saying the association is focused on pushing LGBTQ materials into libraries and promoting “drag queen story hours,” according to a recent story in the Citrus County Chronicle.

At the Hernando County Commission meeting on Sept. 26, Mazzuco said the association is targeting schools with drag queen story hours.

She said that she received an email, which she sent to the county commissioners, and proceeded to read it.

“Before this commission today is a project known as the ‘American Library Association,’ who are requesting the County Commission to give them funding so that they can incorporate their program into the school system, which ALA has been notoriously promoting, drag queen stories and targeting children with sexually explicit LGBTQ materials,” she said. “I would ask that the commission reject this. We don’t know what next year’s election is going to bring as far as the School Board is concerned, but I think that decision and decisions for projects like this should be put off as unnecessary right now. I’m sure we’re doing just fine with what we have, and I would ask that the BOCC and the School Board reject this project.”

Budget meeting

Later at the meeting to approve the county’s budget, a long line of activists – some from Moms for Liberty and others who even traveled from Citrus County – asked commissioners to cut out what some called the “Unamerican” Library Association.

The group’s CEO, Emily Drabinski, was described as a “Marxist lesbian” in a now-deleted social media post, according to NBC News.

“Their whole goal is to push an ideology that is not in tune with the conservative majority of our community,” said the Rev. Jack Martin, a regular public commenter at Hernando County School Board meetings. It might not be a lot of money, but it would encourage many people who are afraid to speak out.

Kim Winker of Moms for Liberty in Hernando County was one of many who provided direct quotes by Drabinski, including this one at a recent socialist conference: “Public education needs to be a site of socialist organizing.”

She also wrote an academic paper called “Queering the Catalog,” Winker said, and an example would be filing a book about Thomas Jefferson under “slaveholders” instead of American history.

Removal of the funding by the county would show the county is standing up to the “woke garbage,” she said.

The library issue took up nearly 40 minutes of the two-hour budget meeting, though commissioners were champing at the bit to take their shots at the American Library Association, and did so.

To applause from the audience, Commissioner Steve Champion made the motion to pull the funding.

Commissioner Jerry Campbell said he supported the rights of adults to make choices, “so long as it doesn’t affect the lives of other adults or negatively affect children." 

“In my opinion, libraries are meant for learning and to encourage imagination, not indoctrination,” he said.

The vote was unanimous to pull the membership. 

No one spoke in favor of the American Library Association.

Just as content in the schools and school libraries has caused controversy, the presence of books about LGBTQ issues, human sexuality and race relations has given local activists a new reason to attack public libraries and claim they are pushing inappropriate materials on children.

Monty Floyd, co-chair of the Hernando Moms for Liberty chapter, had a big smile on his face as he left the commission chambers after the vote.

Despite the repeated claims of “drag queen story hours,” he said it’s true that there have been none in Hernando County, but the goal is to keep them from happening, and to keep certain books away from children. 

“It’s a problem with the books that are appearing in the children’s section in the Hernando County Public Library,” Floyd said. “Commissioner (Jeff) Holcomb had to physically remove ‘All Boys Are Blue,’ which is a book about the graphic rape of a minor by an adult. It’s a family member, so it’s also incest. Commissioner Holcomb had to take the book because the library refused to remove it from the children’s section and put it in the adult section, where it belonged.”

The book “Gender Queer” also was in the children’s section of a county library, he said, until the library was forced to move it to the adult section.

It’s less about drag queens, Floyd said, and more about “grooming” by putting such books next to Dr. Seuss.

And they’re not about banning books, he insisted. It’s about getting certain books out of the children’s section.

Ultimately, Floyd said, it was about more than the $300 removed from the county budget.

“It was about basically protecting our kids from individuals, sadly, in Hernando, trying to subject them to this stuff.”

Commissioner Brian Hawkins had said during the debate that if you took a picture of some of the material, sent it to a minor and told the minor not to talk about it, you could get a visit from Sheriff Al Nienhuis.

School staff and library staff in the system can expose children to this material and then tell them not to tell their parents.

“It’s flat-out grooming minors,” Floyd said. “It’s corrupting them.”