Smithtown library board to meet after removal of LGBTQ Pride displays from children’s rooms & More news

 

The Smithtown library board will hold an emergency meeting Thursday night amidst furor over removal of Pride Month displays from the children’s rooms of the library system this week.

Library board members had approved the removal by a 4-2 vote Tuesday night. Library director Robert Lusak, who is not a voting board member, told Newsday the displays included at least 29 books that are still in the library collection. They include a history of the AIDS Memorial Quilt and picture books like “Pink is for Boys” and “Pride Puppy.”

Pride displays remain in other areas of the system’s four libraries, Lusak said.

The emergency meeting will be conducted over Zoom at 6:30 p.m., according to a notice posted on the library website.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, LGBTQ advocates and library professionals have condemned the removal.

Trustee Marie Gergenti, elected to the library board last October with the backing of Long Island Loud Majority — labeled an antigovernment group by the nonprofit Southern Poverty Law Center — told Newsday that she had made the proposal for the removal of the displays at the board’s Tuesday night meeting.

She said she had received “complaints about the displays for Pride Month. … Now we have two sides complaining. … It’s ridiculous — we’re a nice town.”

Gergenti won her board seat by a wide margin with 1,451 votes, the third-highest total in a seven-candidate race for three seats. Previously, she was a frequent speaker at Smithtown school board meetings.

In August, after she and her husband said the Smithtown school district was using a learning platform biased against conservative viewpoints and favorable to the Black Lives Matter movement, district leaders restricted some of the content.

In an email Wednesday night, Smithtown library board president Brianna Baker-Stines called the removal a “reminder of the hatred and bigotry that has been festering in the Town of Smithtown, driven by those with a political agenda that runs counter to the role of the Library.” She said she spoke for herself, not the board.

Other library trustees declined to comment or could not be reached.

Lusak said that after the library board’s Tuesday vote, he wrote a memo to the heads of the system’s four buildings directing them to “remove all Pride displays from all of our Children’s Rooms.” A copy of the memo, apparently leaked, circulated on social media, and the library later posted the board resolution on its website in a message from board trustees: “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 resolution passed after “lengthy discussion,” according to the message, but by late Thursday morning the library had not posted minutes from that meeting.

Hochul, in a tweet late Wednesday afternoon, wrote: “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. To LGBTQ+ New Yorkers: We stand with you, we support you, & you are welcome here.”

She was joined by the New York Library Association, which, in a statement, called the Smithtown library board’s move “a direct violation of NYLA’s commitment to intellectual freedom and the freedom to read that libraries are entrusted to uphold.”

Lusak said the displays had been up since June 1 and had been scheduled to remain through the end of the month. He said he had gotten “a handful of complaints” about the displays, which remain in teen and adult areas of the library. The library routinely offers themed displays coinciding with holidays and cultural events.

Suffolk Cooperative Library System director Kevin Verbesey said in an email that Smithtown’s board was the only library system in the county to “ban any specific kinds of displays from any specific locations in their library.”

He declined to comment specifically about the board’s vote, but said that in general, the best boards “keep to a policy setting and financial oversight role and allow their professional staff to develop the collections, programming, and services that best meets the community’s needs.”

Nassau Library System director Caroline Ashby said in an email that “we’re not aware of any Nassau library boards considering similar action.”

The Smithtown library system operates independently of the town and local school districts.

The board’s mission statement says it is mandated by the community “to promote knowledge, understanding, and wisdom by making available to the community it is chartered to serve the best possible resources, personnel, and facilities requisite for modern library services.”

On Thursday, some residents of Smithtown said they supported the library board’s move.

“Let the children be children without confusing them,” said Robert D’Addario of Commack, who is retired from the aerospace industry. The Pride display “forces a discussion about homosexuality with an age group where it’s not appropriate to be talking about sex at all,” he said, and reflected what he said was a nationwide “agenda… There are flags all over the place, parades — It’s being forced on us at this point.”

But LGBTQ leaders, family members and some prominent Long Islanders criticized the removal of the displays.

Novelist Jodi Picoult, a Nesconset native, said in a tweet that she was “disgusted by the trustees who voted for this. Libraries are for all, & representation matters.”

Picoult once worked in the library’s reference section, she said.

In a statement, Jennifer Fowler, president of the Public Library Directors Association of Suffolk County, said the group “believes that this action discriminates against library patrons and employees who are part of the LGBTQIA+ communities. These communities have equal rights to find materials they want on public library shelves and materials highlighted in library displays. Public libraries are meant to support each individual’s freedom to choose what they want to read without anyone (including library boards) censoring books or restricting the patron’s right to select materials they want to read.”

Amanda Babine, executive director of Equality New York, an advocacy group for LGBTQI New Yorkers and their families, said in an interview that the board’s decision was “despicable” and amounted to an “erasure of LGBTQ people and their families.”

David Kilmnick, president of the LGBT Network of Long Island, called the Smithtown library board’s decision “an act of hate” that set a dangerous precedent.

His organization had been planning to launch in late summer a leadership institute for people interested in joining local government and school boards, he said. They now plan to launch at a virtual community hall Monday night, and they will expand their focus to include library boards, Kilmnick said.

Jay Fried, the Smithtown father of a transgender teen son, also criticized the move.

“It’s Pride Month, and we’re just looking for kids to feel some level of acceptance or feel where they’re not invisible,” he said. “The library is a place where you’re supposed to be represented no matter who you are.”

 

I have tried to give all kinds of news to all of you latest news today 2022 through this website and you are going to like all this news very much because all the news we always give in this news is always there. It is on trending topic and whatever the latest news was

it was always our effort to reach you that you keep getting the Electricity News, Degree News, Donate News, Bitcoin News, Trading News, Transfer News, Gaming News, Trending News, Digital Marketing, Telecom News, Beauty News, Banking News, Travel News, Health News, Claim News latest news and you always keep getting the information of news through us for free and also tell you people. Give that whatever information related to other types of news will be

made available to all of you so that you are always connected with the news, stay ahead in the matter and keep getting today news all types of news for free till today so that you can get the news by getting it. Always take two steps forward

All this news that I have made and shared for you people, you will like it very much and in it we keep bringing topics for you people like every time so that you keep getting news information like trending topics and you It is our goal to be able to get

all kinds of news without going through us so that we can reach you the latest and best news for free so that you can move ahead further by getting the information of that news together with you. Later on, we will continue

to give information about more today world news update types of latest news through posts on our website so that you always keep moving forward in that news and whatever kind of information will be there, it will definitely be conveyed to you people.

All this news that I have brought up to you or will be the most different and best news that you people are not going to get anywhere, along with the information Trending News, Breaking News, Health News, Science News, Sports News, Entertainment News, Technology News, Business News, World News of this news, you can get other types of news along with your country and city. You will be able to get information related to, as well as you will be able to get information about what is going on around you through us for free

so that you can make yourself a knowledgeable by getting complete information about your country and state and information about news. Whatever is being given through us, I have tried to bring it to you through other websites, which you may like

very much and if you like all this news, then definitely around you. Along with the people of India, keep sharing such news necessary to your loved ones, let all the news influence them and they can move forward two steps further.

Credit Goes To News Website – This Original Content Owner News Website . This Is Not My Content So If You Want To Read Original Content You Can Follow Below Links

Get Original Links Here🡽

Scroll to Top