FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 19, 2023
DETROIT, Mich. – The ACLU of Michigan today sent a letter to Lapeer County Prosecutor John D. Miller warning him that public statements he has made against Lapeer Librarian Amy Churchill for refusing to remove the award-winning book Gender Queer: A Memoir from the library collection have no legal basis, threaten First Amendment freedoms, and violate Mr. Miller’s ethical duties as a prosecutor. The letter was sent the day after the Lapeer District Library’s board of trustees unanimously voted to uphold Ms. Churchill’s decision.
Ms. Churchill retained ACLU of Michigan cooperating attorney John Shea after Miller suggested in public statements that library staff were violating the law and could be criminally prosecuted for including Gender Queer in its collection. The letter urges Mr. Miller to respect the decision by the Library Board and allow the library to continue serving the public without further action, threats, or public comment from his office.
Jay Kaplan, ACLU of Michigan Nancy Katz & Margo Dichtelmiller LGBTQ+ Rights Project Staff Attorney, released this statement:
“Mr. Miller is entitled to his personal opinions about Gender Queer or any other literary work in his capacity as a private citizen. However, it is wholly inappropriate, and an abuse of his office, to throw those individual opinions around with the endowed weight of the office of Lapeer County’s chief law enforcement official, as has been done in his public statements about this issue.
“LGBTQ+ people have the right to see themselves represented in the material found on a library’s shelves. Censoring that material is clearly unconstitutional. It also does great harm to members of the LGBTQ+ community, who are made to feel marginalized and targeted for abuse when books and other materials that reflect their life experiences are banned from public and school libraries.”
Lapeer Librarian Amy Churchill released this statement:
“Librarians strive to serve the public and ensure that everyone, no matter who they are, sees themselves in our collections. That is why, when a library patron requests that we buy a book, as was the case with Gender Queer -- a book that 150 libraries across the state have – we strive to honor that request.
“Librarians and libraries are here to serve the public, and we must be free to carry out this mission. The Library Board, after fairly considering whether to keep Gender Queer in our collection, has unanimously decided to retain the book. This decision affirms our continued support for both the First Amendment and an inclusive library collection.”
Click here to read the letter to the prosecutor.