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Smithtown libraries reverse ban on LGBTQ+ books from children’s displays

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SMITHTOWN, N.Y. — There has been a reversal on a Pride display at a Long Island library.

The Smithtown library board voted earlier this week to take down Pride displays in the children’s section. In addition to displays, about 29 children’s Pride-related books were removed from shelves but could still be checked out by parents.

During an emergency meeting Thursday night, the Smithtown Library Board of Trustees voted to put the displays back up. Those displays will stay up through at least July 15.

Flyers, banners and colorful books proudly displaying Pride Month had been removed from children’s rooms in the Smithtown Library following a controversial 4-2 library board vote.

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“This 100% is not how the community feels about this, this is not how the public librarians feel about this. This was purely a decision made by the trustees,” Smithtown mother Juliet Roscigno-Filipkowski told CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan.

The library released a statement, reading in part, “All books on this subject are still part of the Library’s Children’s collection and can be checked out by anyone wishing to do so. These titles have not been removed from the collection.”

Pride displays remained in teen areas of the system’s four libraries.  

“They have it in the library, that’s one thing, but it doesn’t have to be in the children’s section,” one parent said.

“They are still on the shelves, they are just relocated and I approve of that decision,” another parent said.

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The library president said earlier Thursday that she was aghast.

The governor released the following statement: 

“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 and have directed the New York State Division of Human Rights to launch an investigation immediately. 

“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. For many LGBTQ+ kids, libraries are a place of refuge and information where they can be welcomed and affirmed for who they are.

“We will not tolerate a ‘Don’t Say Gay’ philosophy taking root in our state. I look forward to seeing the Division of Human Rights take prompt action to investigate these reports.” 

The book removal was proposed by trustee Marie Gergenti, who shut her front door when asked to comment.

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But Kevin Smith, another loud majority advocate, explained, “Whether it’s identity or orientation, why are we so dead set about taking about sex to children? … I don’t know why that has to be paid for by the public dollar, on the public dime.”

Families come in all shapes and sizes, says Smithtown dad Jay Fried.

“Whether it’s my straight son, my trans son, my bi daughter or my straight daughter, I want them to all feel that they’re represented and that there is material there that speaks to them,” he said.

The LGBT Network says it is now launching a leadership institute for those interested in joining local government, school boards and library boards.

“We want to support people in this community to run and replace these homophobic, transphobic and hateful Smithtown library
board members,” said Robert Vitelli, with the LGBT Network.

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“LGBTQ youth are three to five times more likely to commit suicide. The reasons for that are representation, visibility, safety and inclusion. And what the Smithtown Library did today went against all of those principles,” said David Kilmnick, president of LGBTQ Network. 

They say our libraries are places for all to be represented fully and fairly.

Source: CBS

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