A library committee in New York is hammered after its members voted to dismantle LGBTQ+ displays during Pride Month, sparking outrage from everyone from local residents to the governor and a famous author.
Trustees of the Smithtown Library Board on Long Island voted Tuesday to remove signs for Pride and all LGBTQ+-related books from the children’s sections, NBC New York reported. The move, which ended 4-2, involves all four library buildings in the Smithtown system. Books dealing with sexual orientation and gender identity will be indefinitely removed from the children’s sections – regardless of the literature’s intended audience – and placed elsewhere.
On the Smithtown Library and Smithtown Library Kids Facebook pages, trustees released a statement saying: “After a lengthy discussion, the Board voted 4 to 2 to: Motion to remove all Pride displays, in addition to removing all Books of the same subject on display, from all children’s departments in all Smithtown Library buildings.
“Please understand that all books on the subject are still part of the library’s children’s collection and can be borrowed by anyone who so wishes,” the note continued. “These titles have not been removed from the collection. The library continues to feature Pride Month displays in our teen and adult sections.”
The move was immediately greeted with disbelief.
“This isn’t Alabama or Florida or the Bible Belt! This is Long Island!” said the president of the New York LGBTQ network, Dr. David Kilmnick, according to NBC New York.
New York Times Bestselling author Jodi Picoult, who grew up on Long Island, said in a tweet that her first job was working at Smithtown Library. She said she now feels she needs to reevaluate her upbringing based on board censorship.
“I am disgusted with the trustees who voted for it. Libraries are for everyone, representation matters,” She wrote.
Even New York Governor Kathy Hochul chimed in, tweeting: “For many LGBTQ+ kids, libraries are one of the few places where they can be welcomed and validated for who they are. Our public spaces should accept our young people and not reject them. To LGBTQ+ New Yorkers: We stand by you, we support you and you are welcome here.”
According to local Long Island media outlet Newsday, CEO Marie Gergenti suggested the idea of removing Pride displays and books after receiving complaints about it, but did not specify what the complaints were.
The Daily Beast could not reach Gergenti or other board members for comment Thursday.
Despite the complaints Gergenti received, New Yorkers both inside and outside the Smithtown area rushed to social media to blast the board’s decision.
Chairman of the New York State Assembly for Economic Development Harry Bronson called the move “deeply disturbing” and “nothing short of a direct move by their board of trustees to silence and oppress our LGBTQ+ community during Pride Month.”
“As the only openly gay elected state official outside of NYC, I urge the families of Smithtown and the surrounding area to reach out to their trustees and urge them to reconsider this narrow-minded decision rooted in bigotry,” he said added.
The New York Library Association reiterated its “commitment to intellectual freedom” and condemned the move.
“This ban on all Pride-related exhibits sets a dangerous precedent for libraries statewide as it normalizes victimization of LGBTQ+ youth in their schools and in their communities, with dire consequences,” the organization said in a statement. “The New York Library Association stands with the LGBTQ+ community, especially our LGBTQ+ youth, who use libraries across the state as sanctuaries to nurture their love of learning and authentic selves.”
As of Thursday afternoon, the library’s Facebook post had received more than a thousand comments.
“Representation is important at any age,” commented Rachel Miller of Long Island. “The displays should be put back up.”
“As one half of a gay couple who moved our family to Smithtown last year, it definitely doesn’t make us feel like we made the right decision,” wrote Luis A. Santiago-Baird. “We want to live and raise our sons in an inclusive and accepting community that opposes bigotry and intolerance. Pride matters because representation matters. Pride matters because it is a celebration of diversity, self-acceptance, individuality, love, and honoring those who paved the way before us so we can live our best lives. Removing Pride displays sends a negative and dangerous message to our children.”
Smithtown’s board of directors will hold an emergency meeting Thursday to discuss reintroducing LGBTQ+ displays and books and extending the Pride celebration through July, according to the library’s website.
https://www.thedailybeast.com/smithtown-library-on-long-island-new-york-feels-the-wrath-for-ill-timed-pride-month-move?source=articles&via=rss Smithtown Library on Long Island, New York, feels anger for the ill-timed Pride Month parade