Southern Utah

LGBTQ displays not allowed at any Washington County libraries

Library director banned LGBTQ-themed displays following complaints

ST. GEORGE (News4Utah) - A heated debate took place at the St. George Library.

Equality Utah met with Washington County Library officials for the roundtable discussion.

There, the library director confirmed that LGBTQ displays have been banned at every one of Washington County's libraries.

"If you put up a display that says LGBTQ, you're pushing away a segment of our society," said Joel Tucker, Washington County Library Director.

"Have there every been displays on like, Black History Month, or something like that?" asked  Stephen Lambert, with Equality Utah. 

"Well, I would say Black History Month isn't controversial," answered Tucker. 

"And when you say Black History Month is not controversial, but our Month is, you are dismissing us," said Mark Chambers, a State Senate candidate who sat in the audience. 

The controversy began when Hurricane Library Employee Ammon Treasure directed a complaint to human resources after he was asked to take off an LGBTQ Reads button during Pride Month.

"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," said Treasure. 

Tucker said he made the decision to no longer allow LGBTQ displays after receiving complaints about both the buttons and display.

"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," said Tucker. 

"They don't know what our resources are. So what better way to show what we have than displays?" said a library employee who sat in the audience. 

"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," said Lambert 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," said Chambers. 

Tucker said he hoped to find common ground. If not, he said they may ban all displays at all of the Washington County libraries. 

UPDATE: The American Library Association weighs in on the situation


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