Mississippi mayor withholds library funding over ‘inappropriate’ books

RIDGELAND, Miss. — The mayor of Ridgeland, Mississippi, is withholding more than $100,000 in funding from the library because of a disagreement over the books available.

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Ridgeland’s mayor, Gene McGee, confirmed he is withholding the books because he wants all books with a ‘sexual connotation’ removed from the system, WJTV reported. “I have had many complaints from citizens about the display of certain books at the Library. In my capacity as mayor, I simply believe the books are inappropriate for children. There is a minimum, sexual connotations are not appropriate for children when they enter the library,” McGee said in a statement to WJTV.

The complaints the mayor received were in response to three children’s books and one adult book that depicted members of the LGBTQ+ community or had titles that involved the group, WLBT reported.

The executive director of the Madison County Library System, Tonja Johnson, challenged the mayor, saying that funding was being withheld because of LGBTQ material in the library, WAPT reported. “Funding for this year was being withheld until we removed what he called ‘homosexual material’ from the library. His reasoning he gave was that, as a Christian, he could not support that, and he would not release funding until we remove the material,” Johnson told WAPT.

Ridgeland’s budget was approved in the fall by the Ridgeland Board of Aldermen. Alderman Ken Heard told WAPT that the mayor does not have the authority to unilaterally deny the library money. Johnson said the library board will request a public hearing before the board of aldermen to get the $110,000.

Johnson told WLBT that until the library gets the money, it will have to take money from other areas like employee benefits and material purchases in order to maintain daily operations.

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