A library board on Long Island reversed a decision made earlier this week to remove Pride Month displays from the system's children’s sections shortly after Gov. Kathy Hochul ordered a state human rights investigation.
The Smithtown Library board of trustees had been under fire since voting Tuesday to remove the displays, which included picture books like “Pink is for Boys” and “Pride Puppy.” Any LGBTQ+ book was also banned from the children’s rooms and was to be placed elsewhere.
The board voted 4-2 at an emergency meeting Thursday night to rescind the removal order for children's sections. Trustees also adopted a statement, read by president Brianna Baker-Stines, saying 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."
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The board went on to say that they will commit "collective energies toward ensuring that we get the advice and guidance needed" before making similar kinds of decisions regarding the library.
"We recognize that we have our differences but we believe that what we have in common outweighs those differences," the board's statement read. "We know that a good library will contain things that may trouble each of us, but understand that our primary role involves representing may different viewpoints and opposing ideas. We do this by giving voice — and space — to each."
Hochul earlier Thursday directed the state Division of Human Rights to launch an immediate investigation into the initial action.
“Public places are prohibited by law from engaging in discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity," Hochul said in a prepared statement. “Everyone — and particularly our state’s young people — deserves to feel welcome at the library.”
The vote Tuesday (which also was 4-2) was condemned by LGBTQ advocates, as well as the New York Library Association. In a prepared statement, the library group called it “a direct violation of NYLA’s commitment to intellectual freedom and the freedom to read that libraries are entrusted to uphold.”