UTAH (ABC4) – The Utah Library Association (ULA) has issued a statement after the Orem City Council forbid the public library from doing any displays related to Pride Month in the children’s area of the library.

The Utah Library Association says the Orem Public Library director has indicated that in spite of the “positive reception and thankful comments” from parents last year, there will not be a Pride display in the Children’s wing this year.

ULA emphasizes that library staff have “wide latitude” to create or not create displays, and to decide where to locate them, saying that it is unacceptable and a “possible infringement of first amendment rights” when politicians intervene and direct staff to eliminate planned displays or have them moved to a less frequented area simply because they do not like the topic or viewpoint being expressed.

They note that Pride Month is a nonpartisan observance and recognition of the fight by LGBTQ+ Americans to have their rights as American citizens fully recognized under law. Governor Cox has stated, “We must we must encourage relevant and vital conversations about what it means to love each other, understand our differences, and support our LGBTQ+ friends and family members.”

Additionally, he states, “There should be nothing controversial about supporting a group of people in our state who have historically been marginalized.”

ULA says they stand with Gov. Cox and this belief.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, LGBTQ+ youth have a higher incidence of mental health issues. as well as the highest youth suicide rate in the country, being four times more likely to attempt suicide than their peers.

ULA points out that research from the Trevor Project has shown that these youth are less likely to attempt suicide when they have access to LGBTQ+ affirming spaces and information.

Thus, they say that a display of curated, age-appropriate materials, in conjunction with Utah Pride Month, is an “absolutely appropriate and important way for the library to serve Orem’s parents and youth, families, neighbors and friends.”

One important point the organization makes is that Utah is a state where hate crimes against LGBTQ+ residents nearly doubled last year, and that there are real and measurable health and safety impacts to be considered when Council members forbid age-appropriate displays of LGBTQ+ materials.

As a response, ULA has requested that Orem City Council members publicly and transparently address their actions in this matter, “rescind any directives they have given to the library related to displays of materials” and commit to refraining from any such future directives.