Valentina Gomez, aged 24, has gained attention as a young far-right aspiring politician behind a controversial video. In Missouri, the secretary of state holds responsibilities including oversight of the Missouri State Library, which entails regulating materials available in public libraries statewide.
When I’m Secretary of State, I will 🔥BURN🔥all books that are grooming, indoctrinating, and sexualizing our children. MAGA. America First🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/m8waKi3yhP
— Valentina Gomez (@ValentinaForSOS) February 6, 2024
Jay Ashcroft, the current secretary of state and Republican gubernatorial candidate, has earned a reputation for his staunch anti-LGBTQ+ stance and advocacy for book bans, imposing stringent regulations on librarians and advocating for their criminalization for performing their duties. Missouri, under his leadership, ranks among the worst states in the U.S. for book censorship, according to PEN America, trailing only Texas and Florida in limiting access to controversial literature in public and school libraries.
.@GeorgeJanko I am a Woman of God and the most Googled woman in the world right now. Let’s do a podcast.
— Valentina Gomez (@ValentinaForSOS) February 9, 2024
The underlying motivation for such policies stems from the far-right’s fixation on the private lives of LGBTQ+ individuals, seeking to suppress discussions on the topic within national discourse. Books like “Gender Queer: A Memoir” and “Queer: The Ultimate LGBTQ Guide for Teens” are deemed obscene by figures like Ashcroft and Gomez, with the latter featuring prominently in Gomez’s video, the title emblazoned in rainbow colors reminiscent of the Pride flag, a not-so-subtle imagery.
— Valentina Gomez (@ValentinaForSOS) February 8, 2024
Civil libertarians and LGBTQ+ rights activists have rightfully contested similar laws enacted by conservative state legislatures across the country, arguing that book bans violate the First Amendment and the fundamental right to read, both for youths and adults. Even the traditionally conservative U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down a Texas law aimed at restricting library books, deeming it unconstitutional and a violation of federal law.