Library denies allegation it discriminated against Kirk Cameron; book publisher responds

Kirk Cameron | The Christian Post/Leah Klett

The Indianapolis Public Library has denied allegations that it discriminated against Christian actor Kirk Cameron by denying his request to host a story hour to read his new children's book As You Grow

Cameron, who is best known for his work on the television sitcom "Growing Pains," made public allegations last week that the Indianapolis Public Library in Indiana wouldn't allow him to host a reading of his Christian children's book because of the color of his skin and due to the book's Christian content.

The Indianapolis Public Library, which has 24 locations, was among over 50 public libraries that Cameron and his publisher, Brave Books, alleged to have initially denied them the opportunity to host story hour events. Many of these libraries have held Drag Queen Story Hour events for children.

Earlier this week, Cameron announced that Indianapolis Public Library was among two libraries that are now planning to allow him to hold an event after an initial rejection. The Indianapolis event is scheduled for Dec. 29. 

In response to claims that it changed its position on Cameron's request, the Indianapolis Public Library told WishTV News 8 in a statement that staff never told Cameron or Brave Books they couldn't reserve space for a story hour. 

The library stated that staff only informed Cameron and Brave Books that the library would not officially partner with them to promote a story hour for his book but would allow him to rent space to host a reading.

"There was no 'change of position' in handling this request," the library's statement reads. "IndyPL staff never told Mr. Cameron or Brave Books that they cannot rent a room to hold their own program."

"The publisher has booked a lovely room at one of our locations at our regular events rate," the statement added. "Similar to a wedding, a corporate meeting, baby shower, or a girl scout meetup, any author or community member is able to book a room for an event, regardless of whether or not IndyPL is a 'partner' for the event."

The statement clarified that the library doesn't promote or advertise paid room bookings like it does for events held as part of a "planned partnership."

"We have a programming department that handles Library events, and they do not say yes to everyone who asks to work with them," the library stressed. "Declining to partner on or promote a program happens often and is not a unique circumstance."  

Brave Books Founder and CEO Trent Talbot argued in a statement to The Christian Post that even though the library is allowing them to rent space for their event, it shouldn't be refusing to admit that staff initially "broke the law" by denying Cameron the opportunity to share his Christian book in the first place. 

"They broke the law by denying us space to do our story hour, so now they are covering their tracks by saying they were refusing to sponsor a story hour," Talbot stated. "That's a lie. We have the emails and recordings."

Talbot stressed that the library head is "lying in order to avoid a potential lawsuit."

"We messaged these libraries asking to 'schedule a story hour.' Any sane person would take that as scheduling space. If we wanted them to sponsor a story hour, we would have said, 'Would you be willing to sponsor a story hour program?'" Talbot stated.

Posted on the Brave Books website is a letter written by Cameron addressed to Indianapolis Public Library CEO Gregory Hill about the alleged discrimination.  

"One of the aspects that has always made this country great is the free expression of ideas essential to an informed citizenry. That is why I was surprised to learn from my publisher that you were not interested in having me join your patrons for a reading of my new book," Cameron's letter reads. 

"I hope you will revisit that request. As I understand from my publisher, your strategic plan for author visits includes a push for 'authors who are diverse.' By that, we were told, you mean to limit your diversity purely to 'authors of color.'" 

Cameron alleged that the Indianapolis Public Library "elected to exclude me based on my skin color and the religious beliefs espoused in my book." 

Cameron describes his book on the Brave Books publishing website as a "pro-God, pro-America lesson that is so important for children."

The book aims to use "brilliant art [to teach] the Biblical truths of the Fruit of the Spirit," such as love, joy, peace, kindness and faithfulness.  

According to Talbot, quite a few libraries that have rejected Cameron's story hour request for Cameron's Christian book have held Drag Queen Story Hour (DQSH) for children. In recent years, public library story hours which feature drag queen performers reading books to children have led to heavy controversy

Despite discomfort from some parents who view the DQSH events as loopholes to predatory behavior, grooming and pedophilia, many libraries continue to host DQSH events.

In Texas, a drag performer at a public library was also a registered sex offender

Fox News reports that Talbot said another library, Rochambeau Public Library of Providence, Rhode Island, which declined a story hour offer from Cameron, describes itself as a "very queer-friendly library."

Rochambeau offers a "Queer Umbrella" program for its youth, according to Fox News. The Queer Umbrella program is a "club and safe space where teens can learn, discuss and connect over queer history, art, community resources, and more."

A representative of the Library told Brave Books that it could fill out a form to reserve space, but the library wouldn't "run" the program because "Our messaging does not align."

Cameron reportedly told Fox News Digital that the rejections from the libraries are "proof that more than ever, we are getting destroyed in the battle for the hearts and minds of our children."

"Publicly funded libraries are green-lighting 'gender marker and name change clinics' while denying a story time that would involve the reading of a book that teaches biblical wisdom. How much more clear can it get?" he stated. 

In an interview with CBN's Faithwire, Cameron shared that he is not afraid to take legal action against libraries. 

"If they double down on their discrimination and excluding certain viewpoints just because they think that they don't like them, well, then, I told them that I'm prepared to assert my constitutional rights in court," Cameron said. 

"It's not OK to say 'yes' to drag queen story hours and teach children one kind of value and say 'no' to other community members who would like to have their children taught other values in the same library, in the same room, for the same amount of time as other people are allowed."

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