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Gov. Hochul ‘horrified’ by Smithtown Library’s LGBTQ+ display ban, launches investigation

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The Smithtown Library Board is in hot water after demanding the removal of LGBTQ+ Pride displays from children’s sections across its four buildings.

Gov. Kathy Hochul announced today that she directed the New York State Division of Human Rights to launch an investigation into the ban, according to a statement released from her office.

In a move that was swiftly met with blowback from local LGBTQ+ advocacy groups and the governor, Smithtown Library District’s board of trustees issued a resolution Tuesday night to remove the Pride-related materials from the children’s areas of its libraries.

“I am horrified by reports that the Smithtown Library Board has decided to remove any LGBTQ+ related books from displays in the children’s sections of its libraries,” the governor said. “Public places are prohibited by law from engaging in discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Everyone — and particularly our state’s young people — deserves to feel welcome at the library,” she continued. “For many LGBTQ+ kids, libraries are a place of refuge and information where they can be welcomed and affirmed for who they are.”

She emphasized that her office would not tolerate any “Don’t Say Gay” philosophy, a movement to prohibit primary education from discussing sexual orientation and gender identity in the classroom.

The Smithtown Board of Trustees posted on Facebook that gay, lesbian and other LGBTQ+-themed books have not been pulled from the shelves. Such books have only been removed from displays, the library said.

The libraries continue to display Pride materials and books in other parts of the buildings.

The board will also be hosting an emergency board meeting today at 6:30 p.m. via this link. Check back with GreaterSmithtown for updates on this.

Prior coverage

Top: After staffers were told to remove Pride Month displays in 2017 that referenced LGBTQ materials, the Hurricane branch of the Washington County Library system switched to a “diversity” theme this year. (David DeMille/The Spectrum via AP)