[Editor’s note: The above headline and the below lead paragraph were altered from the original post to ensure the utmost accuracy.]
The Smithtown Library Board of Trustees has issued a resolution demanding the removal of all LGBTQ+ Pride displays from the children’s departments across all four of the library district’s buildings.
On Tuesday, in the heart of Pride Month, library director Robert Lusak issued a memo to library building heads regarding the board’s resolution.
“At tonight’s meeting, the Board of Trustees passed the following resolution: motion to remove all Pride displays, in addition to removing all books of the same subject on display from all children’s sections in all Smithtown Library buildings,” the memo reads. “Accordingly please remove all Pride display from all of our Children’s Rooms. Please share with the appropriate staff.”
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul and the New York Library Association were among those to quickly condemn the board’s action.
Hochul tweeted, ”For many LGBTQ+ kids, libraries are one of the few spaces where they can be welcomed and affirmed for who they are.
“Our public spaces should be accepting our young people — not rejecting them,” Hochul continued. ”To LGBTQ+ New Yorkers: We stand with you, we support you, & you are welcome here.”
The state’s library association also took to social media to criticize the ban.
“Libraries. Are. For. Everyone. NYLA condemns the Smithtown Library Board of Trustees resolution to remove all Pride displays & books on display of the same subject from all Children’s sections in their buildings,” the association said on Twitter.
The association’s full statement on the library board’s resolution can be read here.
The library board’s action also garnered harsh criticism from LGBT Network of Long Island President David Kilmnick.
“The action taken by the board of trustees is really absolutely vile and disgusting,” Kilmnick told GreaterSmithtown. “To remove displays of Pride, which is really displays of family and love, is completely unnecessary and unwarranted, and is done out of an act of hate.”
The library director’s memo has circulated through social media platforms, stirring an array of comments from across Suffolk from individuals opposed to the resolution.
“How dare you hide books that depict perfectly normal children,” one such comment under an unrelated Smithtown Library Facebook post reads. “Books should be windows into the lives of others & mirrors that allow people to see themselves. If you remove these books you are sending a message that LGBTQ+ people are not welcome, respected, or valued in your library.
“Not only should those books be on display during pride month, books that feature LGBTQ characters are part of a diverse library collection and should be included in every display year round,” the comment continued.
The memo came one day after the library’s official Facebook page highlighted the ongoing Pride Month and patrons’ ability to access related media via hoopla, a digital service for ebooks and other media.
“Pride Month recognizes the valuable contributions of LGBTQ+ individuals,” the post, dated Monday, reads. “Explore the multimedia Pride Month collection on hoopla!”
GreaterSmithtown did not receive immediate replies to requests for comment from administrators at the Smithtown Library and members of the Smithtown Library Board of Trustees for comment. But check back for any updates.
The board’s agenda for Tuesday’s meeting does not explicitly list the issue of Pride materials in the children’s rooms. The public comments section lists only a matter of new business labeled “Discussion – Children’s Collection.”
The library board meets again next month.
Kilmnick said that on Monday the LGBT Network of Long Island will host a townhall at 7 p.m. with participation from across Long Island.
“We’re going to be launching three initiatives that will be creating institutional change. And where everyone can get involved,” he said. “We have to get out there and take action for longer-term change.”
Kilmnick mentioned that the organization will start up a training academy for people who want to run for political office.
It will include “everything it takes to put together a campaign, run a campaign, to make sure we fill these school boards and library trustee seats with people who believe in … equality and equity for all”
Top: File photo of Babylon Pride Parade 2020.