Fort Worth Mayor Mattie Parker has removed the “Pride” badge from her summer reading program after being called out for encouraging kids to read LGBTQ+ books.

Last month, the Fort Worth Public Library announced that the Mayor’s Summer Reading Challenge would run from June 1-August 12.

In a video introducing the program, Parker explained that the challenge is meant to help children continue reading throughout the summer. To complete the challenge, children would need to read books and complete activities to collect badges.

“The challenge is designed to help your child fall in love with reading. Keep reading during the summer and also help you find the time to read,” Parker said.

However, it was soon pointed out that the challenge had a Pride badge included and children were encouraged to read books that include an LGBTQ+ protagonist. The challenge also called on school-age children to learn about the history of “LGBT Pride Month.”

After the mayor received over 30 complaints from concerned community members, she directed the library to either change the name of the challenge or remove the Pride badge.

“I did not approve the optional badges and activities that were set to be included in the challenge before it went live. I want all families to feel welcomed to participate, understanding that parents are the right ones to make decisions for the activities that their children are engaging in. My aim is not to tell families what is right for them, but instead allow families to make those decisions on reading and learning in ways that make sense for each of them. Our Library continues to have a wide collection of resources that fit the interests of every family,” Parker said in a statement. “Ultimately, my goal is not to make any political statement. The program is just about fun and encouraging literacy for families during the summer season.”

Soon after her statement was released, a flood of LGBT activists rushed to Fort Worth City Hall Tuesday and attempted to pressure Parker into reimplementing the badge. However, Parker said she would not be reversing the pride badge ban.

“Many of you may not agree with me, and that is okay. But I strongly believe that parents are the ultimate decision makers for their own families and can walk into our Fort Worth Public Library today, right now and find tremendous resources that reflect their own family for their children,” Parker said during the meeting. “Had I dug in or been asked about the Mayor Summer Reading Challenge, I personally would have said let’s focus on minutes read, total number of books, and allowing our parents and our caregivers to guide their own learner in the library.”

On Tuesday, Fort Worth City Councilmember Elizabeth Beck announced she would be implementing her own summer reading challenge, which includes all the “pride” activities previously present on Parker’s challenge.

Emily Medeiros

Emily graduated from the University of Oklahoma majoring in Journalism. She is excited to use her research and writing skills to report on important issues around Texas.