Idaho legislative hardliners urge libraries to sever ties with national organization

By: - July 17, 2023 1:29 pm
Idaho State Capitol building in Boise

The Idaho State Capitol building in Boise on May 5, 2021. (Otto Kitsinger for Idaho Mountain Sun)

Originally posted on on July 17, 2023

Legislative hardliners want the Idaho Commission for Libraries and the state’s school and public libraries to sever ties with the American Library Association.

The Idaho Freedom Caucus push stems from a since-deleted tweet from Emily Drabinski, a Boise High School graduate elected ALA president in April 2022. At the time, Drabinski described herself as a “Marxist lesbian.”

“Her election raises issues about libraries’ involvement in exposing children to explicit materials and injecting hard-left politics and sexuality into publicly funded libraries,” the caucus of 13 lawmakers said in a statement Monday. “The ALA has provided LGBT resources and pressured libraries to include explicit materials on transgenderism and sexual deviance targeting young children. … This dissemination of explicit material with a far-left agenda has reached libraries throughout Idaho.”

While Idaho Commission for Libraries staff can join ALA individually, the commission does not have an organizational membership, and receives no money from the national association, state librarian Stephanie Bailey-White said Monday.

“Information provided from ALA communication channels along with other sources of information available in the free marketplace of ideas is vetted through our ability to think critically and apply that information through an Idaho-based lens,” Bailey-White said.

While Drabinski’s election dates back more than a year, the backlash over her “Marxist lesbian” tweet has resurfaced in recent days.

The Montana State Library Commission voted Tuesday to withdraw from ALA. Two days later, the Idaho Freedom Foundation, a libertarian-leaning think tank, publicly urged Idaho political leaders to follow suit.

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Kevin Richert
Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert writes for Idaho Education News, a nonprofit online news outlet supported by grants from the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation, the Education Writers Association and the Solutions Journalism Network.