In case you all haven't noticed, we are at a bad place in our history, and it is threatening to become worse. The cornerstone defining America, the First Amendment, is being attacked in subtle and not so subtle ways. There are many bad players, but perhaps the most prominent is Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida.
Ron DeSantis recently signed into law a bill that greatly restricts the freedom of speech for dissidents and activists. The bill has been met with strong opposition from civil rights activists, who argue that the law is a clear violation of their First Amendment rights. Critics contend the law will limit their ability to challenge policies and express their opinions in public forums. DeSantis has denied the accusations and has maintained that the law is necessary to ensure public safety and order.
Now, apparently New College of Florida has fired a library director who just happens to be queer and who may, perhaps, advocate for representation of silenced voices and alternative points of view (Moody). This follows the replacement of several colleges board members in the midst of a conservative makeover. The board claims that the move to dismiss the director is a part of a realignment, but regardless of that possibility, a library still needs a central voice to pull all its human capital together. It would be very nice if that person is a librarian. If the person overseeing the library is not a librarian, I fear a lot of micromanaging aimed at deafening the collection's voice of "woke" issues may occur.
The reason the library director was dismissed may have nothing to do with her gender identity. Still, the Fact Sheet "LGBT Workers in the Labor Market" discussing the challenges faced by LGBT individuals in the workforce, including discrimination, harassment, and lack of legal protections, highlights the fact that LGBT workers are more likely to experience poverty and unemployment than non-LGBT workers. While there have been some improvements in workplace policies and attitudes towards LGBT workers in recent years, there is still much work to be done to ensure that LGBT individuals are able to fully participate in the labor market without fear of discrimination or harm. (Simhoni)
Whether or not you have a dog in the fights of gay librarians being fired, you should be worried about the fact that a person was dismissed over what may possibly be a suppression of representation and free speech. This topic has been prevalent in the news the past year, and unless you consciously make an effort to educate yourself on these matters, you may be able to pass situations like this off as something for the common good.
I, for one, think there is an even darker, more devious goal in sight, and this suppression is just the beginning.
How do we combat discrimination and suppression of rights?
We can start by reading banned books. and by reading dystopian books before they are banned. Dystopian books have ways of making people think.
We can seek alternative points of view. We can make your own decisions based on what we have read, and we have read widely. We must remember that countries with active dictatorships began by isolating certain groups and banning access to alternative points of view.
Moody, Josh. “New College of Florida Abruptly Dismisses Librarian.” Inside Higher Ed | Higher Education News, Events and Jobs, 2023, www.insidehighered.com/news/quick-takes/2023/05/04/new-college-florida-abruptly-dismisses-librarian?utm_source=Inside+Higher+Ed&utm_campaign=2e90ea7cf9-DNU_2021_COPY_02&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_1fcbc04421-2e90ea7cf9-198184565&mc_cid=2e90ea7cf9&mc_eid=d65ce59e7cwww.insidehighered.com/news/quick-takes/2023/05/04/new-college-florida-abruptly-dismisses-librarian?utm_source=Inside+Higher+Ed&utm_campaign=2e90ea7cf9-DNU_2021_COPY_02&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_1fcbc04421-2e90ea7cf9-198184565&mc_cid=2e90ea7cf9&mc_eid=d65ce59e7c. Accessed 5 May 2023.
Shanee Simhoni. “Fact Sheet: LGBT Workers in the Labor Market.” Center for American Progress, Center for American Progress, June 2022, www.americanprogress.org/article/fact-sheet-lgbt-workers-in-the-labor-market/. Accessed 5 May 2023.
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