After nearly two hours of deliberation Monday evening, League City's newest committee, charged with deciding what books should stay in the children’s section of the Helen Hall Library, determined some challenged LGBTQ+ books should remain where they were, despite requests for relocation.
The decision came after residents who attended the meeting Monday evening spoke in opposition of those books being moved, and members of the controversial Community Standards Review Committee ultimately decided the challenged books should remain where they were because they were already categorized properly.
The new committee has been the center of controversy and debate since December, when the League City council began workshopping a committee to review book reconsideration forms submitted by residents, a task that had already been carried out by the existing library board.
Since then, League City Mayor Nick Long has appointed seven members to the eight-member board; one vacant seat remains. The committee held its first community meeting Aug. 17 to discuss two book reconsideration forms requesting three different books be removed from the children's section of the library, with both forms requesting they be pulled from the library entirely.
The books at question were "The Great Big Body Book," by Mary Hoffman, "Unbound: Transgender Men and the Remaking of Identity," by Arlene Stein and "Queerstory," by Linda Riley.
"I lived here for a long time," Eve Gammill, a transgender League City resident said at the meeting. "I like League City. I respect League City. I hate that I am being discriminated against by League City, because that's what it feels like to me."
The committee Monday determined that two of those books, "Unbound" and "Queerstory," were not located in the children's section of the library, despite the reconsideration form asserting they were, and dismissed the requests.
The committee also decided that "The Great Big Body Book" should remain in the children’s non-fiction section of the library. And despite the requester asserting that the book contains pornographic content, the committee determined it doesn't.
"There is nothing in this book that says anything about pornography, sexual gender, sexual interest whatsoever," Laura Teetsworth, committee member said.
Katherine Swanson, president of Galveston County Library Alliance said there were two takeaways from the meeting Monday: the committee members determined it's the parents responsibility to answer questions about content in those books, and League City residents think the committee is unnecessary or redundant.
"I appreciated the committee's time and thoughtfulness about the three books, but after last night it seems the city has some work to do regarding the reconsideration process, educating the public on the purpose of this committee versus the library board, and some other issues that became evident at the CSRC meeting," Swanson said.
Monte Burton, who submitted the reconsideration request for "The Great Big Body Book" said Tuesday that the committee's decision to keep the book in the children’s section is "alarming."
"My daughter was asking questions she should not be asking at six years old after reading that book," he said.
Making national headlines, "The Great Big Body Book" has been at the center of a library book controversy across the country. The book explores aspects of the body like birth, growth and genetics, according to its description on Goodreads.
In a recent letter written by author Hoffman, she said she and illustrator Ros Asquith had no intentions of producing a book about anatomy, but rather the broad spectrum of human bodies.
“It would be distressing to discover that our book had been banned; my belief is that books and ideas should be discussed, not suppressed,” she said. “Ros and I worked on this book in good faith and with no intention of offending anyone.”