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GILLETTE, well. – Culture wars over visibility, inclusion, LGBTQ + materials, and LGBTQ + library books have now caused librarians at the Campbell County Public Library to face the potential for criminal prosecution by Campbell County Wyoming, the County Attorney Mitchell Damsky.
A spokesperson for Sheriff Scott Matheny confirmed that a report filed on September 29 by County residents Hugh and Susan Bennett alleged that a crime had been committed at the local library and that the Bennett’s brought several books which they said contained obscene material , accusing the leaders of the Campbell County Public Library of promoting obscenity.
According to journalist Ryan Lewallen, chief information officer for County 17 News based in Gillette, the county attorney declined to comment on an ongoing criminal issue, although Damsky confirmed that the report had been received by his office and is currently being reviewed by his three the brightest lawyers.
“i don’t know what will happenDamsky told County 17 News. “Like I said I have my best minds working on it right now and they will decide whether or not it’s going to be charged. ”
Some of the books that sparked local outrage include âThis Book is Gayâ by Juno Dawson, âHow Do You Make a Babyâ by Anna Fiske, âDoing Itâ by Hannah Witton, âSex is a Funny Wordâ by Corey Silverberg, and âDating and Sex: A Guide for the Teenager of the 21st Centuryâ by Andrew P. Smiler.
Susan Sisti, a local pastor with the Open door church located in Gillette, leads the fight to have LGBTQ + books removed from the Campbell County Public Library
“It’s really easy to walk into the library and look around a bit and find a dirty book that shouldn’t even be in a public library“Sisti said.”These books are absolutely dreadful. ”
Sisti worked with Hugh and Susan Bennett who filed the original criminal complaint, the Casper Star-Tribune reported Friday.
“It is very difficult to imagine how a sexually immature, physically immature child, if there is a reasonable purpose for exposing him to sexual behavior that is far beyond his physical and mental and emotional and intellectual capacities to comprehend“Hugh Bennett told the Star-Tribune, adding that he viewed the books as”hardcore child pornography. ”
This book is gay, Sisti pointed out, includes illustrations of male and female genitalia and descriptions of oral and anal sex.
But children’s access to all kinds of material on the Internet could be relevant to the case, the county prosecutor suggested. “What a 9 year old kid today can’t access Pornhub or whatever he wants you know what I mean? âDamski said.
According to Lewallen to County 17 News, Bennett’s criminal complaint report refers to Wyoming Statute Â§ 6-4-302 (c) (ii), which alleges that the library, through dissemination, promotes obscene material.
“Obscene material, according to WS Â§ 6-4-301, is defined as what the average person would find encourages an excessive interest in sexual matters, portrays or describes sexual behavior in a clearly offensive manner, and lacks literary seriousness, artistic, political or scientific value. ”
The battle over the books has “become contentious and uncontrollable“When it could have been solved by putting books among the adult materials,” Damsky said.
“Personally, as a parent, I find the material just inappropriate for children and gross. But as a lawyer I have sworn to uphold the Constitution and that’s why we treat it with a fine comb“said Damsky The Associated Press and several other media.
Investigators did not contact library officials about the case, leaving them unsure of the books that potentially caused legal problems at the library, library executive director Terri Lesley said. told the AP.
In total, the library handled 35 recent complaints about 18 books, she said, a situation she said seemed quite unusual for a public library.
“This is unexpected, ” Lesley said. “We are trying to be the force of reason, trying to resolve these issues using the policy we have in place – review these books and do our due diligence. ”
This is not the library’s first anti-LGBTQ protest and controversy. Last July, magician Mikayla Oz, who presented hundreds of shows, many of which had family audiences across the Midwest, was scheduled to perform four in Campbell County, including one sponsored by the public library system. Campbell County.
Oz was forced to cancel after she and the library received numerous threats from members of the community.
The reason for the blackout is that Oz is a transgender woman from Iowa. This community outrage was also associated with the Library’s Pride Month book exhibit in June, according to the reporter. Nick reynolds of WyoFile.
Outrage – first against the books, then at the Oz Magic Show – surprised a lot of people, especially given how little promotion the show (which was funded without the use of the money) taxpayer) received, and that it had nothing to do with sex, gender or LGBTQ matters. Library staff involved said they never thought about Oz’s sex before booking her.
“[Gender identity] is not something we would ask aboutt, ” says Terri Leslie, Executive Director of the Campbell County Library System. “We can’t imagine having a questionnaire about someone’s sexual orientation. So it’s not something we knew. What we did know was she does a great job, kids love her and it sounded like a big family event.. ”
There is a long legacy of anti-LGBTQ fanaticism in Gillette. Its former mayor, representative to the state legislature and United States senator, Michael Bradley ‘Mike’ Enzi was a longtime critic of the LGBTQ community.
Among his many anti-LGBTQ positions, he supported state Senate legislation to declare void all same-sex marriages, including those performed out of state, in Wyoming. He supported the exclusion of boy scouts from gay boy scouts and leaders and backed legislation to end federal aid to schools that banned Boy Scouts because of their refusal to admit gay members.
Enzi supported the position of fellow Republican and former US Senator Rick Santorum regarding the US Supreme Court ruling in Lawrence v. Texas, which Santorum argued was wrong and that sodomy laws must be obeyed.
Then he voted against the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act although he expressed his condolences to the Shepard family at the time of Matthew Shepard’s murder.
The area around Gillette and a majority of its residents still reflects this anti-LGBTQ attitude of Enzi and many others, a local person with knowledge of the ongoing culture war in Campbell County who requested anonymity said Saturday at Blade:
“They won’t give an inch – no compromise as they believe that all LGBTQ + people are sinners and deviants and that the âGay Agendaâ is a threat to the American way of life and must be closed forever. ”