FORT WORTH, Texas — The Fort Worth Public Library, upon receiving directives from the city’s Mayor, Mattie Parker, has extracted an LGBTQ-centered reading challenge from the Mayor’s summer reading initiative. This action ensued after several objections were launched against the challenge.
Previously, the annual reading program—an esteemed partnership between the Library and Mayor Parker—allowed young participants to accrue badges through completion of a multitude of reading activities, all formulated with a key objective in mind: igniting a child’s passion for reading, as iterated by Parker in a promotional discourse.
Among the variety of badges on offer was an optional Pride badge, achievable by school-age children upon completion of challenges such as reading a book featuring an LGBTQ protagonist, acquainting themselves with the history of Pride month, or crafting a self-portrait that underscores their individuality.
However, the winds shifted abruptly when ‘For Freedom and Justice,’ a group, took to social media condemning the reading challenge as an “anti-biblical agenda toward children.” This condemnation encouraged citizens to voice their concerns to the Mayor’s office.
Subsequent to this event, Mayor Parker’s office has recorded over thirty email complaints pertaining to the content of the Pride program. Consequently, Mayor Parker commanded the library system to either alter the name of the Mayor’s Summer Reading Challenge or to abolish the Pride badge.
Fort Worth Public Library’s communications manager, Theresa Davis, has informed WFAA that the Pride badge became a part of library programming in 2020. She further stated that, given the significant investments in promotional and marketing materials for the program, the library elected to eliminate the Pride badge rather than rename the entire program.
This decision has not been met without disappointment and frustration, particularly from some parents who shared their disapproval on the city library’s Facebook page. One parent conveyed her discontentment, noting the educational value of the badges and expressing sadness over the city’s seeming surrender to a limited faction seeking to reduce interaction with diverse educational books and experiences.
In response to these concerns, a spokesperson for Mayor Parker asserted the Mayor’s concern about the suitability of the challenge content for the age of the participants.
Mayor Parker has since released a comprehensive statement, emphasizing the absence of personal approval for the badges and optional activities before the challenge went live. In it, he asserted his commitment to enabling families to make autonomous decisions concerning reading and learning. The Mayor also stated his intention to steer clear of making political statements and to focus on fostering a fun environment that promotes literacy.
Theresa Davis clarified that there are no plans to eliminate LGBTQ-related books from the Fort Worth Public Library, adding that this incident marks the first time a public official has requested a revision in their programming.