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Arlington library board chair is removed over a recent Facebook post, LGBTQ displays

Fort Worth Star-Telegram logoFort Worth Star-Telegram 1/25/2023 Elizabeth Campbell, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Arlington’s library advisory board chair Cat Serna-Horn was removed from her job on Tuesday night following backlash over her Facebook post in which she criticized council members for urging her to change a previous vote on LGBTQ displays.

The city council’s vote was 8-0 in favor of removing Serna-Horn. Councilman Andrew Piel was absent from the meeting.

Serna-Horn apologized for the post during public comments, and said she learned from her mistake, but that did not persuade the council.

Before the vote, Arlington Mayor Jim Ross said, “I’m going to be candid. This stuff hurts my heart. I don’t enjoy divisiveness in this community. What makes this an American dream city is that we can disagree about some things but still love each other and treat each other with honor, decency and respect,” he said.

Ross added that he hopes that “what happens tonight” will bring some closure to the divisiveness.

“This issue of board membership isn’t about inclusivity or about bowing to certain groups or individuals. It’s about conducting ourselves appropriately.”

Serna-Horn said during the meeting that she “learned” from her post, which was in a private Facebook group, but she added that she was told the post did not warrant her removal from the board.

“I was told that my quiet resignation was requested so that the council wouldn’t face any backlash. I declined,” Serna-Horn said.

Serna-Horn said in an interview after the council’s decision that she wasn’t surprised by the vote to oust her.

She said anti-LGBTQ activists spoke publicly about removing her after the vote on the Pride Month displays.

“This is part of their playbook. I’m concerned about the rest of the board,” she said.

Serna-Horn said several board positions are up for appointment later this year, and she’s concerned that new members would call for more censorship.

Serna-Horn posted to a private Facebook group before a December library board meeting urging people to speak out against censorship. Last fall, the board voted 9-1 to recommend that Pride Month displays should be limited to teen and adult areas and to designate other areas in the libraries for LGBTQ materials.

In her post, Serna-Horn criticized council members Raul Gonzalez and Rebecca Boxall for supporting groups with anti-LGBTQ agendas.

She also called out activist Gina Woodlee. Woodlee and the council members did not comment to the Star-Telegram previously.

Serna-Horn wrote, “Council members (Gonzales specifically but also Boxall) and City Managers’ offices have indicated that since the inclusivity side isn’t saying much anymore but the Woodlee folks ARE, that we should give in to them and make this all go away. It’s the ‘faster’ way out of this public debate after all ... Gonzales is unrelenting in nixing what has already been voted on and approved, following increased pressure from anti-lgbtq people since our last meeting.”

Several library board members also spoke in support of Serna-Horn during Tuesday’s meeting.

Zoe Wilkerson, who said she will become the board’s chair, said she wanted Serna-Horn to keep her position.

Wilkerson said that before Serna-Horn became chair, it was difficult to get a quorum and to get things done.

“I would very much like to thank the library board for putting me up for this position, but I stand in opposition because I’d like for Cat to remain chair,” Wilkerson said.

Sherry Woods, who also serves on the library board said Serna-Horn was “unswerving in her duties.” She also said that volunteers shouldn’t be “yelled at” and harassed.

“As a volunteer, we shouldn’t be subject to these political moves. If this continues, you won’t have any volunteers,” Woods said.

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