ST. GEORGE, Utah (AP) — Workers at a southern Utah library were pressured to remove buttons and other displays highlighting LGBTQ-themed materials because they are seen as divisive, they said.
The LGBTQ-themed displays and buttons have been contentious issues at the Hurricane library for the past two years.
Last year, workers were ordered to remove the displays because a county official thought they were too controversial. This year, they were asked take off buttons that read "Ask me about LGBTQ reads," workers said.
The buttons and displays at the Hurricane library drew complaints from upset visitors, said Joel Tucker, the director who oversees library branches in Washington County.
Library employees who placed the displays and wore the buttons told the Spectrum that they never received any complaints.
The LGBTQ-themed displays were similar to those that they put up for Saint Patrick's Day, polygamy, Black History Month and most recently Pioneer Day, they said.
The intention behind the Pride Month displays was to show the library is a safe space to learn more about the topic, said Ammon Treasure, a clerk at the library.
"There persists an idea that acknowledgement of LGBTQ people equates to promoting a specific agenda or advocating for deviant behavior," he told the St. George newspaper last week. "I want to go on record in stating that this is not true. We only desire your respect and equal treatment in regards to the services the library provides."
Some of Treasure's co-workers have spoken up in support, including Natalie Daniel, who thinks the censoring the displays sends a bad message.
Staffers replaced this year's LGBTQ display with new diversity-themed displays over a selection of books that read "libraries are for everyone."
The new displays were a safer choice, Tucker said, because the alternative would "give rise to or would be likely to give rise to disagreement."
As for the buttons, Tucker said they were no longer allowed under new dress standards approved last month for employees.