Smithtown Library reverses ban on Pride displays, books

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The Smithtown LIbrary’s Commack Building at 3 Indian Head Road in Commack, New York.
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Following community backlash, the Board of Trustees of the Smithtown Library on Long Island reversed a decision to ban Pride displays and LGBTQ-related books from the children’s section during the height of Pride Month.

The board convened an emergency meeting on June 24 to overturn the June 21 decision, which directed the library “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 initial vote on June 21 saw four votes in favor of the motion and two votes opposing it. The subsequent vote was also 4-2.

“Earlier this evening the Board of Trustees of The Smithtown Library rescinded our earlier decision to remove Pride displays from our Library’s Children’s Departments,” the board said in a public statement on June 23. “The majority of the Board recognizes that our earlier decision was made without the time, care and due diligence that a decision of this type deserves and that it was the wrong decision.”

The decision to reverse the ruling came after Governor Kathy Hochul issued a written statement expressing that she was “horrified” to learn about the decision and said she ordered the New York State Division of Human Rights to open an investigation.

“Public places are prohibited by law from engaging in discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity,” Hochul said in a written statement before the emergency meeting. “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.”

After the reversal, the board vowed to consider the broader community’s perspective before moving forward with such changes in the future.

“The Board looks forward to reviewing our decision-making processes and our policies related to our Library’s collections, displays, programs, and services to ensure that they are helping us fulfill our mission of providing access to diverse information, lifelong learning, and entertainment resources through outstanding service for all residents of the Library District,” the board wrote.