… When librarian Brooky Parks created an LGBTQAI+ program and an anti-racism workshop for youth of color at the High Plains Library District in Weld County, Colorado, to provide a safe space for teens to talk about subjects that might be taboo at home, she was ordered to cancel them. She said she was told they violated the district’s ban on running “polarizing” programs and also was directed to get rid of the word “woke” in a national reading program known as ReadWoke, because the word was polarizing. When she challenged these requests as discriminatory, she says, she was fired.
Asked how she was doing, Parks burst into tears. “It’s definitely been extremely stressful,” she said, mentioning worries over money and unemployment. Parks, who has two kids of her own, worries how her students in the clubs will fare without extra support. “I’m extremely passionate about working with teens, and I know their challenges and struggles…It’s very discouraging to feel like what I went to school for, and got my Master’s degree in, and am supposed to be expert in (has been taken from me). I can’t do my job.”
High Plains Library District spokesperson James Melena said Parks’ firing was “an internal HR matter” and that the district offers a wide variety of diverse programming. “We have had and will continue to have LGBTQAI+ informational panels where the panelists talk about their experiences and insights – that is informational and doesn’t push a viewpoint or agenda,” he said. “But if in the program the panelists actively encouraged attendees to become advocates for their cause, we would consider this polarizing.”
Parks has filed a charge of discrimination against the district with the Colorado Civil Rights Division and Equal Opportunity Employment Commission.
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