Ten Arlington pastors tell mayor, council books on LGBTQ people ‘affect children’ in ‘lifestyle’

The email, sent Aug. 24 to city council members, asked for a “dialogue” among religious leaders concerned that the June Pride Month displays, which stood at library branches in June 2021, were not aligned with “family values.”

“We ask that these displays not be allowed in our city library. They are inconsistent with the family and faith values ​​of the majority of parents in Arlington, and are indeed designed to engage children in this lifestyle,” according to the email titled “For Your Eyes Only – Dialogue Request – Gay Pride Show Directed for kids.”

Among the co-signers of the emailed letter were Gary Hutchison of Grace Community Church; Maurice Pugh of the Fellowship of New Life; Richard Martinez of Iglesia Café; Denise Wiles of First Baptist Church Arlington; Marty Collier of Rush Creek; Ronnie Goines of Koinonia Christian Church; Jason Paredes of Fielder Church; Jeff Hubbard of North Davis Church of Christ; Stephen Hammond of Mosaic Church and Eric Herstrom of Lake Church.

KERA has reached out to every pastor via email. None of the pastors was available for comment prior to the time of publication.

The pastors asked to meet with Mayor Jim Ross and the City Council; However, they were told that they could not meet with all the members of the city council at once because doing so would require a general meeting.

Seven pastors met with Ross, City Manager Trey Yelverton, and Director of Libraries Norma Zuniga on September 7. It is uncertain which of the seven priests met with city officials, as the records Kira received news of contain only Herström’s name in the meeting invitations.

Hutchison told the library’s advisory board on Oct. 6 that he and other patrons who met with the leaders were concerned that identifying them as part of the LGBTQ community would send children down a “path of pain.”

“Some of it is because they are not accepted and included in love and that’s awful, but some of it is because they just go that route,” Hutchison said during the meeting.

The pastors wrote in the email that they are not interested in standing up against the LGBTQ community or causing controversy.

“To be clear, we are not interested in creating a public spectacle, nor are we interested in standing up against the LGBTQIA+ community… Our goal in this needed conversation is to protect our community from the sexually explicit and suggestive literature being overtly displayed in our public libraries directed at children/teenagers in this city” The speech continues.

However, the topic of LGBTQ pride displays has led to more than eight hours of public discussion at two Arlington Public Library Advisory Board meetings.

The board approved policies on October 27 that would restrict Pride Month offerings to youth and adult sections and create permanent LGBT sections for all age groups. Members of the Library Board and City Council declared the decision a “settlement”.

The original policy, drafted by library staff, would have restricted Pride Month offerings to the adult section. Pride’s offerings are curated depending on what is appropriate for each age group section of the library, said Zoe Wilkerson, a board member. She said during the October 6 meeting that presenting a pride show for adults only, may lead children to access content deemed inappropriate for their age group.

Library Board meetings occur during the fourth Thursday of every month, although the last meeting—which was canceled due to a lack of quorum—was scheduled for November 10. The board was supposed to discuss presentation guidelines.

The council was also set to continue speaking about graphic novels after residents raised concerns about “Deviant,” which was written by Michelle Perez and illustrated by Remy Boydel. The novel depicts the life of a trans woman surviving through sex work in Seattle and includes depictions of sexual acts and nudity.

Zúñiga said the “pervert” was moved during the October 27 meeting to the adult-only section of the library, and that the library will go through a new screening process for graphic novels and review existing collections. Zuniga also announced a new parental control feature that will allow parents to restrict material to only children’s content and/or young adults’ books. The library had previously offered restrictions on children 12 and under for adult books.

For LGBTQ mental health support, call the Trevor Project’s toll-free 24/7 support line at 866-488-7386. You can also reach a trained crisis counselor through the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by calling 800-273-8255 or texting 741741.

Did you get a tip? Email Kylie Broussard at kbroussard@kera.org. You can follow Kylie on Twitter @tweet

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