HURRICANE (News4Utah) – Librarians in southern Utah are speaking out – telling News4Utah they’ve been censored after displaying LGBT-themed material.
“I feel that acknowledging a group of people should not be controversial, especially when they are already within your community, it’s just education,” said Ammon Treasure, Library Clerk at the Hurricane Library.
Employees at the Hurricane Public library say it started in 2017 when during Pride Month, an LGBT display at the front of the library received complaints.
“We were asked to never do another LGBTQ display again,” said Treasure.
This summer during Pride Month, the Hurricane Library’s display instead focused on diversity, but employees wanted to do something more, so they decided to make buttons to promote LGBTQ Reads. It is a website geared toward helping readers of all ages find queer reading material.
“There are a lot of people who have yet to come out of the closet, or are unsure of the environment we’re in whether or not they’re going to be ridiculed … to ask certain questions, we wanted them to make sure they knew it was ok. … that is is a neutral space, we wanted to be able to provide all of our community with information that they need,” said Treasure.
Washington County Library Director Joel Tucker says he continued to receive complaints.
“I’ve been the Library Director for 5 years, and the pride displays and the pride buttons were the only complaints that I’ve ever received in regards to a display,” said Tucker.
“Even Orem Utah, their library put on their website, on their newsletter, It’s Pride Month,” said Sarah Hall, Reference Librarian at the Hurricane Library.
“I did get a complaint about the buttons because it seemed we were advocating for that position again… I reviewed the policy, specifically the dress and appearance policy … it didn’t seem to fall in line … the policy is really professional, and really, buttons kind of remind me of TGIFridays,” said Tucker.
“If we had been censored on anything, I think we need to speak up because we are a library, and legally we’re not supposed to do that. We’re supposed to give information and make information available to everyone. Regardless of topic, whether I believe it, or not,” said Hall.
“We celebrate diversity and love the differences that we as people have, but I do as a library want to be more neutral on how we talk about and display topics,” said Tucker.
We spoke to the Salt Lake City Public Library to see how their policies may differ. They share with ABC4 they encourage their staff to wear buttons that express their interests and expertise.