In an unprecedented victory for democracy, a federal district court judge in Texas has stepped in to halt the removal of books from the Llano County library system, many of which feature LGBTQ themes.
The removal of these books was initiated by several public officials, including the county judge and library system’s director, after receiving complaints from members of the community. This prompted a group of seven Llano County residents to file a lawsuit against the officials last year, alleging that the removal of the books violated the First Amendment.
The judge’s recent ruling found that library officials did indeed violate the First Amendment by restricting access to certain books based on their content and message. Notably, the removal of the “Butt and Fart Books,” a series of children’s picture books, was deemed unjustified by several commissioners and librarians who had no issue with them.
The judge’s order also addressed allegations that the group complaining about the books had made moves to appoint new board members in order to redraft the library’s collection and removal policies.
This ruling comes at a time when debates over what children should be allowed to read about race, sexuality, and other topics are becoming increasingly contentious across the nation. The plaintiffs’ counsel hailed the ruling as a “ringing victory for democracy,” stating that “the government cannot tell citizens what they can or can’t read.”
The judge’s order will immediately reinstate the books that were removed from the Llano County library system, calling for their return to their original location in the physical shelves, as well as their inclusion in the library system’s catalog.