Cat Cerna-Horn says board members offered her “political favors” to quietly resign from the board, which has voted multiple times to keep June Pride screenings in the library’s teen and adult sections and create a permanent LGBTQ section for all ages.
She also claimed that she was initially told that the comments in the deleted November 26th would jeopardize her position on the board, but was then told that the board’s compromise on keeping LGBTQ sections in the library forced her to remove it.
“I have been criticized for not whipping up votes at the December meeting to ensure they return to a more restrictive library environment. Again, I strongly disagree; that would be unethical behavior,” she said during a council meeting on Tuesday.
District 7 Council member Bowie Hogg, who appointed Cerna-Horn, replaced her. Board members approved the motion to terminate Cerna-Horn, appointing Jennifer Hutcherson to the board of directors and Zoe Wilkerson as chairman of the board by an 8-to-0 vote. Andrew Peel, District 4 board member, was absent.
Hogg said in an email to KERA before the meeting that Cerna-Horn’s removal was not about a library board vote, but about professionalism. He found the terms she used for residents opposed to LGBTQ displays and sections of the library offensive, and Cerna-Horn’s allegations that council members Raul Gonzalez and Rebecca Boxall delayed the final decision unprofessional and offensive.
“The concern is unprofessional activity on social media, where she posted about rumors about my board colleagues, calling one side with what I think are derogatory terms, and then trying to fold the board committee. As appointee and later chairman, “I do not believe it is in the best interests of the city that higher standards of propriety will be held for appointees,” Hogg wrote.
In a recently deleted Facebook post for the Arlington People for Inclusion group, Cerna-Horn called the hardliners “irritated” and “MAGA people.” She also called them “Woodley Fundamentalists”, referring to Gina and Tim Woodley, who were prominent opposition voices against library display policies, as well as earlier movements that banned the city from proclaiming June Pride Month.
Cerna-Horn called the notion that her removal was merely propriety “deliberate naivety”.
“Unfortunately, many board members really believe that this is not about inclusion. I think it’s relatively naive, and in some cases it’s deliberate naivety, because in public comments, these extremists in our community have stated that this was their goal.” she said.
Debates of the Month LGBTQ Pride
The vote follows months of hours of debate on the library’s advisory board, during which anti-LGBTQ commentators called LGBT people groomers and sinners and compared them to pedophiles. They also asked if the board would consider demonstrations in honor of the pro-life movements, conservatism, Christians, and “heterosexual pride.”
Prior to this, much of the same group had spoken out against Ross proclaiming Pride Month in June. During a meeting in May, members of the Steadfast Baptist Church compared LGBTQ people to pedophiles and suggested that members of the community be executed.
Voices opposed to the LGBTQ demonstration called for Cerna-Horn and library director Norma Zuniga to be removed from library advisory board meetings for months. Calls for Cerna-Horn’s suspension date back to November 1, according to emails received by KERA News in response to a request for open records.
On Tuesday night, one of two public commentators who supported Cerna-Horn’s firing accused her of using her psychology background and current studies to become a librarian as a scare tactic. The commenter also said that Cerna-Horn claimed to listen to all sides as chairman and then represent the other side online.
“As it turned out, she presented one face to the public and another to those she begged for help to stop,” she said.
Mayor Jim Ross, minutes before the vote, asked the community to “give us a closure so we can move on now.”
“I hope that what is happening tonight will allow us to close some of the controversy over whether this community is inclusive or not. This community is inclusive, but the issue of board membership right now is not about being inclusive or subservient to certain groups or individuals. It’s about behaving appropriately,” he said.
After the meeting, Wilkerson said the closure was up to no one but the public. Wilkerson sensed closure during several Pride Month screening policy votes. The discussions didn’t end there, she said.
“We do not determine when the issue is closed. The public decides when a matter is closed,” Wilkerson said.
Meanwhile, Cerna-Horn says members of the anti-LGBT policy council plan to nominate more like-minded people for five positions that open in June and then rephrase the question.
“It’s happening the other way around. Actually the board voted twice and it was closed. It was resolved, it was due to the bow, and we all breathed a collective breath of relief after, frankly, the common trauma of sitting there for months, enduring venomous hate speech, personal threats to board members and me in public forums,” she said. she.
future library board
The next meeting of the library board will take place on Thursday at 5:30 pm at the George W. Hawks Library in the city center. The board will select a new vice chair and discuss the budget for the library and charter schools in the city.
Wilkerson, who joined the board in 2021, said she is focused on facilitating the transition. Prior to Cerna-Horn becoming chairman, Wilkerson said the board struggled to reach a quorum. Cerna-Horn made sure people attended meetings and felt comfortable voicing concerns and voting for their conscience.
“I just really want to make sure we don’t lose the type of board that Kat has built and the strength of the board,” Wilkerson said.
During the meeting Serne-Horn was joined by library staff and three members of the library’s advisory board. Wilkerson, Christina Smiley and Sherri Woods spoke to Cerna-Horn management during a public comment.
Woods called Cerna-Horn “unwavering” in her leadership over several weeks of unprecedented hours of meetings, shouting and threats against the board.
“As a volunteer, we should not be exposed to these political moves. If this continues, you will not have volunteers,” Woods said.
For LGBTQ mental health support, call the Trevor Project 24/7 toll-free support line at 866-488-7386. You can also contact a qualified National Suicide Helpline Crisis Counselor by calling 800-273-8255 or texting 741741.
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