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Pahrump trustees disband from American Library Association citing remarks from its ‘Marxist-lesbian’ leader

Pahrump Library trustees have voted to disband from the American Library Association following controversial comments from its self-proclaimed “Marxist-lesbian” president, Emily Drabinsky, who reportedly advocated for member libraries to “be on the agenda of socialist organizing.”

Her remarks were allegedly made at the Socialism 2023 Conference in Chicago in September where she was a speaker.

Pahrump Library Board Chair John Shewalter says several people have expressed concerns over the ALA president and her political beliefs. He cited Drabinsky’s most recent comments as the main reason the local board decided to terminate its membership with the ALA.

“This came up through politics, but not from this body,” Shewalter said. “It came up from [the American Library Association].”

The Pahrump Library pays $175 in annual membership dues to the organization, which aims to “provide leadership for the development, promotion and improvement of library and information services and the profession of librarianship in order to enhance learning and ensure access to information for all.”

An audio recording of Drabinsky’s comments can be heard on Karlyn Borysenko’s far-right website “Actively Unwoke”, where Borysenko claims to have secretly recorded Drabinsky at the Socialism Conference on Sept. 2 in Chicago where she led a presentation that focused on “re-thinking schools.”

“One of the discussions was: ‘How to Smuggle Socialist Ideas Like Critical Race Theory into the Classroom Even When The Law Outlaws It,’” Shewalter said.

Pahrump trustees voted 4-0 to withdraw from the ALA on Oct. 9.

Vice Chair Brian Shoemake was absent from the meeting and did not cast a vote.

Pahrump not alone

The Montana State Library Commission also voted out the ALA in July 2023 citing Drabinski’s political beliefs.

This is not the first time Pahrump trustees have broached contentious policies.

Earlier this year, Pahrump trustees instructed librarian Vanja Anderson to review how other libraries cataloged so-called controversial youth books that contain themes of sexuality, gender, race and queer identities. Critics said the probe targeted the LGTBQ community. Pahrump trustees did not take action on the matter after Anderson reported that most libraries in her query rarely, if ever censored books from youth patrons.

Shewalter says Pahrump’s withdrawal from the American Library Association this month has nothing to do with the sexuality of its lesbian leader.

“I don’t care what Ms. Drabinski’s sexual orientation is — and I don’t care about this LGBT stuff,” Shewalter said. “I think we should be transitioning kids to Christ. That’s what I think we should be transitioning kids to, if you want to know the truth.”

John Clausen is a freelance journalist in Pahrump.

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