Long Island Library Board Reverses Decision to Remove Children’s Pride Displays

The original decision, to remove LGBT-related displays and books from the children’s sections of the library, was criticized nationwide.

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The Smithtown Library Board of Trustees in Long Island, NY voted Thursday to reverse their earlier decision to remove LGBT books and displays celebrating Pride Month from the children’s sections of all four libraries in their district. The emergency meeting reversed the decision in a 4-2 vote after more than 1,000 people attended following national criticism of the move. The original vote, on Tuesday, June 21st, was widely condemned as anti-LGBTQ censorship, as similar decisions are being made in libraries and schools across the country.

The Resolution

smithtown library lgbt display

Last Tuesday, the Smithtown Library Board passed a resolution 4-2 removing all children’s Pride displays and LGBT-related books from the children’s sections of the four libraries in the district. Books that were removed included titles such as “Pink is for Boys” and “Pride Puppy”, and largely consisted of highlighted children’s books that affirmed LGBT identities. A description of the AIDS Memorial Quilt was also featured in the displays. The Smithtown Library is a Special Library District in New York, allowing it to be funded by the town rather than the public school district, and giving the board the power to make decisions about content. The library is the largest on Long Island, and one of the largest in New York State.

The Response


The New York Library Association released a statement shortly following the vote, condemning the decision:

The Smithtown Library Board of Trustees’ June 21, 2022 resolution… is a direct violation of NYLA’s commitment to intellectual freedom and the freedom to read that all libraries are trusted to uphold.

NYLA statement, June 21, 2022

In addition to NYLA’s response, activists from across the state of New York and the entire country expressed their opposition to the decision, including New York Governor Kathy Hochul:

Our public spaces should be accepting our young people– not rejecting them. To LGBTQ+ New Yorkers: We stand with you, & you are welcomed here.

Gov. Kathy Hochul, June 22, 2022

Governor Hochul also directed the New York State Division of Human Rights to investigate the Smithtown Library Board. While some members of the community supported the decision, many were disappointed by the Board’s vote, including former Smithtown Library employee and bestselling author Jodi Picoult, who tweeted,

I’m disgusted by the trustees who voted for this. Libraries are for all, & representation matters. Smithtown folks, how do you feel about being a place where books are banned? What’s next?

@jodipicoult, June 22, 2022

LGBTQ Children’s Books Are Being Banned Across the Country


The resolution comes in the midst of similar decisions in libraries and schools across the country, as well as a wave of attempts to stop children from learning about LGBTQ people in schools and beyond. The American Library Association reported 1,597 book challenges or removals in 2021 alone, most of those concerning LGBT-related books. Additionally, Florida passed its notorious “Don’t Say Gay” bill earlier this year banning discussion of gender and sexuality in its schools, with several other states attempting to follow suit.

Smithtown Reversed the Decision Two Days Later


The Board of Trustees called an emergency meeting Thursday night, June 23rd, following the widespread pushback against the original decision. The meeting attracted so many attendees, both community members and activists from around the country, that Zoom could not accommodate the number. At the meeting, the decision was reversed, in another 4-2 vote, and the books and displays will be reinstated until July 15 when librarians will decide what will happen to them. The board issued a statement following the vote, stating:

The majority of the board recognizes that our earlier decision was made without the time, care, or due diligence that a decision of this type deserves and that it was the wrong decision.

Smithtown Library Board, June 23, 2022

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