Earlier this month, I wrote about the censorship of pride displays in libraries across the United States, including the “Hide the Pride” campaign that encourages people to check out all LGBTQ books on display for remove from view and prevent other customers from accessing it. . In the weeks that followed, even more stories came out.
For one thing, Catholic Vote, the group that launched the “Hide the Pride” campaign, posted a self-congratulatory update with photos of Pride displays (before) and empty shelves (after). One of the people who wrote consulted 52 books.
Several librarians, both in public and school libraries, have discussed on social media seeing this tactic used in their library. Some of the “Hide the Pride” people leave a letter in place of the books explaining that they are protesting the existence of Pride displays and even carrying LGBTQ books.
The biggest recent news about the library’s Pride displays was the decision of a Long Island library to not only ban Pride displays, but also remove all LGBTQ books from the children’s section. The decision caused a huge backlash both within the community and on a larger scale.
Author Jodi Picoult spoke out against the ban in a Facebook post, having worked at the library in the past. She said: “Seeing this memo disgusts me and makes me reevaluate an institution I praised for being formative in my life as an author. Love is love…and representation matters.
In response to the backlash, Smithtown Libraries held an emergency online meeting with more than 1,000 attendees. The large number of people trying to view the meeting was difficult for the platform to handle. No public comment was allowed and participants were threatened with expulsion if they used the “raise their hand” function, as it slowed down the video and audio. Some participants changed their names to “LGBTQ RIGHTS” and “ALLOW PUBLIC COMMENTS” to communicate their opinion.
The board then voted 4-2 to overturn the decision.
This story demonstrates something that Kelly Jensen has also pointed out in weekly censorship articles: it’s not safe to think, “That kind of thing doesn’t happen here.” Because it happens in upstate New York. And it’s not the only blue state where this is happening: One of these “Hide the Pride” people checked out all the LGBTQ books on display in a California library in Sonoma County. For each of these stories, the ones that make the news are just the tip of the iceberg. How many libraries do this happen to them, but they don’t have the framework to link it to ‘Hide the Pride’ censorship, or the platform to talk about it?
We see this anti-LGBTQ and anti-BIPOC sentiment growing across the country. It’s powerful and organized, from groups like Moms for Liberty and Catholic Vote to prominent right-wing politicians. Don’t be complacent. No matter where you are in the country, show up at library and school board meetings. Vote in local elections. Make your voice heard. Otherwise, these groups will be happy to make decisions on your behalf.
Macon, North Carolina: A North Carolina County Commissioner library funding threatened on a small Pride screen: “If you want to celebrate divisive things like gay pride or whatever, then do it, but do it on private property. I can’t support increasing agency funding with these screens.
Greenville County, South Carolina: The Greenville County Library System has decided to remove all Pride postings. The manager called each branch to avoid leaving any documentation of the ban that might be seen in a FOIA request. An assistant librarian, Victoria Slessman, decided to resign following this decision. Slessman had also previously requested to include pronouns in email signatures and was refused. When they received news of the Pride screens being banned, Slessman instead moved the screen to a less visible area. Like Smithtown, the Greenville County Library System has since reversed the ban.
Bedford County, Virginia: A small Pride exhibit in Bedford County was taken down. It consisted of a handful of books on top of a shelf with a rainbow next to it. The library manager also said the books were “out of the library and were checked out by one person”, which could also put this under “Hide the Pride”.
Litchfield, New Hampshire: Yet another “Hide the Pride” story: A client has requested that the Aaron Cutler Library’s Pride exhibit be taken down. When the library refused, the customer borrowed all 15 books. There is speculation that the person who borrowed the book is a member of the library’s board.
Orem, UT: The Utah Library Association issued a statement against the Orem Public Library’s decision not to allow Pride exhibits in the children’s department. Not only is this censorship, but it also means kids looking for age-appropriate LGBTQ books should head to the adult section to access them.
Jennings, IN: The Jennings County Public Library is not removing its Pride display…they are simply removing anything that identifies it as LGBTQ, including the Pride flag that came with it. In my first article, I mentioned a dangerous tendency to “compromise” with anti-LGBTQ groups, and this is a perfect example. The chairman of the board says in this article that they have never removed any books and that the library is for everyone, without acknowledging that it is still an affront to gay patrons.
Jackson Madison County, Tennessee: A Jackson Madison County Library pride display was challenged by a resident complaining of “gay” content, but it is still up.
Portsmouth, Ohio: This is yet another “Hide the Pride” story. A library in Portsmouth had its entire Pride display checked by a customer, and the Pride display is being challenged at board meetings. This article, which seems a bit questionable, states that the council is seeking legal advice on how to proceed.
St. Tammany, LA: Several patrons complained about a Mandeville Library Pride display, but when offered a form to dispute it, no one responded to their angry comments on Facebook with a formal objection. The library has also asked several patrons to reach out to show their support for the exhibit.
Richland, Washington: And here’s one last “Hide the Pride” story, including a form letter left by the person who checked all the books.
It may be the end of Pride month, but it’s not too late to reach out to your local librarians and library board and let them know you support Pride displays and the library with books. LGBTQ. We need all possible voices to fight against this organized anti-LGBTQ movement that is taking over library spaces.
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