ENID, Okla. (KFOR) – Enid and Garfield County library board members are readying themselves for potential lawsuits.
An executive session in Monday’s board meeting included the Enid city attorney and city manager.
“The discussion is to maintain the intent of the library board setting policies, but also to make sure we don’t run afoul of the law in anyway,” said Jerald Gilbert, Enid’s city manager.
To Gilbert’s knowledge, there are no lawsuits filed.
But a recent policy implemented by Enid and Garfield County Board of Directors is sparking controversy after it resulted in the cancelling of a book club.
The new policy bans the display of books and programs of content related to the teachings of sex, sexual activities, sexual identity, gender identity, or other content that is sexual in nature.
Francesca Leuquire is the organizer of the local romance novel book club that was cancelled. Leuquiure said the club still meets regularly.
Since the library can no longer have them as an official club, they are now an Enid community book club. Still needing a space to meet, Leuquire rents out a room at the Enid Library as a patron.
Leuquire doesn’t know of any lawsuits against the city, but she does support the idea.
“It’s a repression of free speech,” said Leuquire about the policy. “I think there’s a strong case to make for First Amendment repression.”
Leuquire said that because the library is a public entity, everyone’s voice should be heard. She cites the city’s military base as a driver for diversity of thought. And her concern is that the new policy sends the wrong message.
“We’re telling the people of Enid, if you are not a straight person, if you do not conform to the heterosexual norms that are displayed in society then you’re not accepted at the library,” said Leuquire.
Theri Ray, the Enid Library interim director, said admits the policy is getting mixed reviews from Enid residents.
But she also added that the library wants to be a place that represents all people.
“The Public Library of Enid and Garfield County values the dignity of individual beliefs and strives to provide access to materials and services to meet the informational and recreational needs of all members of our community,” said Ray in a statement.
The meeting Monday resulted in the scheduling of another special meeting. City officials and library officials will meet again on May 25.
The ACLU of Oklahoma said they are closely monitoring the situation and can’t comment on a potential lawsuit at this time.