LGBTI displays are no longer allowed in any public libraries in Washington County, Utah.
The controversy started during Pride month. Library employee Ammon Treasure was asked to remove his ‘LGBTQ Reads’ button. In 2017, the library also faced criticism for having a LGBTI display during Pride month. Employees were asked to ‘never do another LGBTQ display again.’
‘I feel that acknowledging a group of people should not be controversial, especially when they are already within your community, it’s just education,’ Treasure told Good4Utah.
‘There are a lot of people who have yet to come out of the closet; or are unsure whether or not they’re going to be ridiculed. We wanted 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.’
According to Washington County Library Director Joel Tucker, anti-LGBTI complaints were the only ones he’s ever received.
‘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,’ Tucker told Good4Utah.
Equality Utah, an LGBTI advocacy group, met with Tucker for a roundtable discussion about this issue.
‘If you put up a display that says LGBTQ, you’re pushing away a segment of our society,’ Tucker said at the roundtable.
In response, Equality Utah’s Stephen Lambert asked: ‘Have there ever been displays on like, Black History Month, or something like that?’
‘Well, I would say Black History Month isn’t controversial,’ Tucker answered.
‘And when you say Black History Month is not controversial, but our Month is, you are dismissing us,’ State Senate candidate Mark Chambers retorted.
‘We do have displays in other library systems throughout the state so this isn’t a novel idea. I don’t feel we are significantly different in that our library system should work any differently,’ Treasure said of the ban.
‘We don’t want to advocate for one position over another. We want to be that middle ground, that resource for people who agree with that perspective and those who don’t,’ Tucker stated.
‘There are so many young people here in Utah that are killing themselves because they don’t feel like there’s any place to turn, and they feel very very alone. And so the library like you mentioned is a place of resource where they can go. They can learn they’re not alone,’ Lambert said to Tucker.
‘The libraries are an educational resource for the entire community, for everybody. And with this decision, they have made it into a controversial confrontation. We are better than this. We need to educate people. And that’s why we have libraries,’ Chambers echoed.
Tucker said he hopes to find a ‘common ground’. But if that isn’t possible, the ban of LGBTI displays will still occur.