Florida Severs Ties with the American Library Association
The state of Florida in October joined a growing number of states that have cut ties with the American Library Association (ALA) over its promotion of Marxism and sexually explicit reading materials to children. Florida’s Division of Library and Information Services, a division of the Florida Department of State, issued a new rule stipulating that it would “not allow grant project activities associated” with the American Library Association or its affiliates, Politico reported.
The Politico report does not explain Florida’s stated reason for withdrawing from the ALA, noting simply that the Florida Department of State “did not comment on the rule.”
However, the ALA has publicly opposed Florida’s policy to remove sexually explicit content from schools. On August 31, the American Association of School Librarians (AASL), a division of the ALA “formally commend[ed]” the Florida Freedom to Read Project, an activist organization organizing against the DeSantis administration’s push to rid schools of inappropriate content. The organization’s Twitter logo depicts a Progress Flag constructed of books; their Twitter feed going back to October 25-26 defended sexually explicit content such as “Gender Queer” and alleged such books have “similar material” to the Bible. According to data released in February, 153 out of 175 (87%) books removed from Florida schools were “pornographic, violent or inappropriate for the grade level for some other reason.”
“The great upheaval in educational institutions is most welcome and long overdue,” Family Research Council Senior Fellow for Education Studies Meg Kilgannon told The Washington Stand. “Congratulations to Florida for making this move, and I hope other states will find it difficult to justify association with the porn-promoting, progressive ALA.”
“The ALA has been promoting progressive ideology for many years,” Kilgannon said in July. “Their annual conference has had breakout sessions on how to feature racist and sexualized content frequently. The re-election of an openly Marxist president, who ran for the job promising to inject her militant views into the organization, was the last straw.”
In April 2022, the ALA elected Emily Drabinski as the organization’s 2023-2024 president. Drabinski celebrated in a tweet, “I just cannot believe that a Marxist lesbian who believes that collective power is possible to build and can be wielded for a better world is the president-elect of the @ALALibrary.” Although she deleted the tweet after backlash, Drabinski later confirmed in an interview that the “Marxist lesbian” label is “very much who I am and shapes a lot of how I think about social change and making a difference in the world.”
In July, the Montana State Library Commission voted to withdraw from the ALA over Drabinski’s Marxist self-identity. In August, the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) followed suit for the same reason.
Also in July, Missouri discontinued financial payments to the ALA after the director of its Office for Intellectual Freedom advised libraries on how to “‘exploit loopholes to block’ a faith-based book publisher from holding story hours in libraries across the country.” In September, South Carolina canceled its ALA membership for the same reason.
“Groups like the American Library Association are being exposed as not merely unnecessary expenses, but indeed malicious enforcers of the worst orthodoxies of the Left,” Kilgannon explained.
Not everyone applauds the states dissociating with the ALA. University of Pennsylvania professor Jonathan Zimmerman lamented ALA’s loss of “professional deference” and associated the trend to skepticism surrounding vaccines and climate change. “We used to trust our librarians to make judgments,” he said. “This is just another chapter in the erosion of professional authority.”
Kilgannon responded that the “professional” argument was not related to the issue at hand. “Parents who have tried to get books that are inappropriate for children restricted by age or removed altogether often find the book approval process used by their school systems requires NO ONE to read the books (including library staff) and was designed in consultation with left-wing groups like the ALA,” she said. “The educational establishment is going to have a really hard time surviving the no-nonsense assessment of America’s moms and dads.”
“I don’t know what that legitimate and practical concern has to do with vaccines or climate change,” she added, “other than prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that progressives like Zimmerman see these institutions as a means of enforcing their views on others, rather than as the ‘beyond reproach resource’ he wants us to think they are.”
Kilgannon warned that library patrons in states that left the ALA “may notice very little difference” at first. “Some may be spared the ALA’s seasonal sexual and political campaigns of ‘suggested titles’ on display, but others will find activist librarians are the problem in their community.”
“‘We the people’ must continue our vigilance in examining what organizations our public institutions fund and making our wishes known,” concluded Kilgannon.
Joshua Arnold is a senior writer at The Washington Stand.