The Column

Around the Region: Iowa community wants LGBTQ-themed books banned

Conservative Christians in Orange City are outraged that the public library lends books with LGBTQ themes, the Des Moines Register reports:

More than 300 people have signed a petition to either ban or label and group materials related to homosexual and transgender content in the Orange City Public Library.
Rev. Sacha Walicord of Grace Reformed Presbyterian Church rose before an overflow crowd of more than 100 at the Orange City Public Library Board of Trustees meeting Tuesday and said that LBGTQ books and other library content are “pushing an agenda” that is counter to those in the faith community.
“We won’t roll over,” he said. “We will stand up and we will fight.”
Others defended the selections, saying that a library is a place of diverse ideas and that library patrons are free to choose what to view or ignore.
“No one is putting a gun to anyone’s head,” said Sue Kroesche, former director of Orange City Public Library.
The controversy erupted in one of Iowa’s most conservative Republican counties in northwest Iowa after somebody filed a statement of concern to the library about a book on its shelves that featured LGBTQ content. Library director Amanda Vazquez said the complaint was rescinded after the person discovered it had kindled a firestorm.
But a flier was distributed door to door throughout Orange City last weekend that denounced such materials along with a petition document and call to attend Tuesday’s board meeting. The flier said that the library was distributing “homosexual/transgender promoting materials … some aimed at pre-K kids, using your tax dollars!”

The Globe Gazette has more:

Some Orange City residents are petitioning the public library to separate materials that deal primarily with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning — or LGBTQ — themes, as well as to halt any new such acquisitions without public input.
Others say they support the library’s integration of such materials, even if they don’t personally endorse the content.
Both sides aired their views during a packed meeting of the Orange City Public Library Board of Trustees meeting this week. Nearly 20 people spoke, with about half supporting the inclusion of the books and nearly as many others sharing reservations.
“As a congregation, I would have to say we are shocked that tax money is being used to push this agenda even further,” said the Rev. Sacha Walicord, pastor of Grace Reformed Presbyterian Church. “As pastors, we have been silent for far too long. We have rolled over for far too long. This ends now.”
Resident Mike Goll said it means volumes to LGBTQ youth in the community to see characters like them in books they read.
“There are gay kids, there are trans kids in this town, and seeing their faces and seeing their lives mirrored in some of the books here means everything,” he said.

Conservative Christians are suing the City of De Pere after that municipality passed a ban on discrimination based on gender identity, Courthouse News reports:

Five churches and a Christian radio station sued a Wisconsin city, claiming its recently passed nondiscrimination ordinance protecting transgender residents should not apply to them.
De Pere, Wisconsin, passed the ordinance last November, prohibiting employers, businesses and landlords from discriminating against people on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation.
The Green Bay suburb was sued Thursday in Brown County Circuit Court by Hope Lutheran Church, Crosspoint Church, Destiny Church, St. Mark Lutheran Church, Christ the Rock Church and Christian broadcaster Lakeshore Communications Inc. aka Q90fm.
Represented by Wisconsin attorney Heidi Miller and Matthew McReynolds of the California-based Pacific Justice Institute, the churches and radio station argue the ordinance violates their constitutional right to run faith-based ministries and businesses because allowing people who contradict their beliefs to use their facilities goes against the reason the facilities exist.
“Unlike many of its counterparts in other state, local and federal law, the De Pere ordinance does not clearly exempt religious organizations. Nor has the city been willing to assure religious institutions that they will not be subjected to the ordinance when it takes effect March 1, 2018,” the 24-page lawsuit states. “As a result, the ordinance is likely to be imposed on churches and other religious organizations in a manner that would mandate government orthodoxy in core religious functions, communication and conduct.”

A new scholarship has been created to lure more LGBTQ folks into the healthcare industry, Patch reports:

Healthcare organizations such as Aurora, Froedtert, and the Medical College of Wisconsin are making concerted efforts to guarantee appropriate care for people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer.
Despite advances in culturally-competent care, Wisconsin LGBT Chamber President and Founder Jason Rae says that many people who are LGBTQ have historically been concerned about discrimination in the doctor’s office and spend a lot of time looking for allies in the healthcare industry.
“People really want to find a provider who supports them being themselves, and to be open and honest from the start,” he said. “For example, people who are transsexual are much more likely to face discrimination from their doctor.”
To support more LGBTQ medical health practitioners and staff, Rae’s organization, the Wisconsin LGBT Chamber of Commerce and Herzing University-Brookfield have partnered on a new scholarship for LGBT individuals working in the healthcare industry.
Rae said the Pride in Healthcare scholarship was created to open up new possibilities for members of the Milwaukee area LGBT community to pursue and advance careers in healthcare while supporting members of the LGBT population through routine and critical care.

Madison’s public schools are installing gender inclusive restrooms, the Wisconsin State Journal reports:

Every Madison School District building soon will have at least one easily accessible, single-stall, public bathroom open to students of all genders under a district-wide project now nearing completion, district officials said.
“This is just good to do for all people but it really is going to be essential for some of our kids,” said Sherie Hohs, the district’s social worker for LGBTQ students and project co-coordinator with school operations chef Karen Kepler. “It’s a big deal. It’s something we’re proud of.”
Within a few months, all 48 regular district schools will have a specially designated all-gender bathroom, as will the rented or owned space where alternative education programs are based and district headquarters. Only a “handful” of bathroom projects remain, Kepler said.
The effort, begun about a year ago, also includes staff training and development of a student video. Similar to family or all-access bathrooms at a store, the all-gender bathrooms can be used by any students, visitors or family groups, such as a mother with small children with her.
“We’re just trying to normalize it,” said Hohs, who works with district students who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning. “It’s like going to a coffee shop, but we’re being very intentional with the language around it, that this is for all genders.”

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