DEARBORN, Mich., Sept. 29, 2022 — Complaints were filed earlier this month against 13 book titles in Dearborn Public Libraries. The complaints originated when a parent of a student at Edsel Ford High School filed a police report against a number of books that positively portrayed LGBTQ+ teens. This led the Board of Education to take action against several of these books, and to start new procedures to handle future complaints. This also led to protests by anti-LGBTQ+ and pro-book banning groups on Sunday, Sept. 25.

“Dearborn has for generations maintained a beacon of American idealism, where diverse groups in times of hardship have come together to work on the tough issues,” said state Rep. Jeff Pepper (D-Dearborn). “Free speech is just that — the freedom to engage in debate with one another, to challenge and be challenged safely. This is the most critical protection of our democracy. These freedoms also challenge us to recognize the humanity of those we disagree with. Recent bad-faith attempts to vilify the LGBTQ+ community and restrict civil liberties for political gain are a direct threat to the fabric of our nation. At no point in global history are book banners remembered fondly.

“I firmly believe that our community has the ability and intention to move forward from the current wave of media madness fueling this fire, hand-in-hand.”

Earlier this month, Dearborn Mayor Abdullah H. Hammoud made the following statement on social media:

“There isn’t a day that passes that I don’t feel pride in being a product of our Dearborn Public Schools, and a patron of our extraordinary public library system. Our public schools and libraries are the sandbox of democracy, where youth learn to interact with different people and ideas, to build the foundation of citizenship,” he wrote. “We’re at our best when our institutions include all of us, no matter one’s background, zip code, or native tongue. Everyone in our city has the right to pursue knowledge that betters their unique life journey, and we should refuse the false choice between parental responsibility and the freedom to learn. As a parent and as a Mayor, I believe we can have both.”

Pepper shared his enthusiastic support for Mayor Hammoud’s statement.

“Mayor Hammoud could not have expressed the reality of this highly contentious situation more eloquently,” Pepper said. “I appreciate the strength and conviction with which he’s promised to protect the first amendment rights of Dearborn residents and ensure that community members of all ages have access to literary works.”