Sunday, December 4, 2022

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Library head: display is part of themed display for June

Susana Goldman, director of Alamance County Public Libraries since 2019, told the newspaper Wednesday that she is “not aware of having received any complaints recently” about the LGBTQ-themed display, which she emphasized is near the Young Adults section.

Susanna Goldman during an earlier, unrelated appearance before Alamance County’s commissioners.

“In general, we are the resource where people can find information on any subject. We promote those materials in order to increase circulation, so people can explore new topics [and] to intrigue people into new experiences or fulfill a need they’re experiencing.”

– Susanna Goldman, director of Alamance County Public Libraries

“Typically any displays we have are up for a month or two, and they align with various themes,” Goldman elaborated in a brief phone interview Wednesday afternoon. “[That] is a current display at the moment, but it will likely be shifted with the month change.”

Asked what the display would be for the month of July, Goldman said she didn’t “have that information in front of me right now,” adding that as a general rule summer months feature displays about beach reads and the like. “It could be anything, whatever the celebration [is] for any month,” the director explained. “A lot of times, July is vacation month, so they pop up things to read on vacation. I know a past display was graphic novels.”

Goldman also assured the newspaper that the LGBTQ-themed display was only scheduled to remain in place for “a month or two,” contradicting the accounts of two mothers in Burlington who said they had personally observed it at least since April, while visiting their library with their young children.

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Goldman said that such displays, whether they’re about LGBTQ issues or black history, serve the library’s mission to educate, inform, and entertain patrons. “In general, we are the resource where people can find information on any subject. We promote those materials in order to increase circulation, so people can explore new topics [and] to intrigue people into new experiences or fulfill a need they’re experiencing,” she said.

 

Blurred lines?
In general, LGBTQ activists say that having greater representation of gays in the media and popular culture is a welcome sign of diversity and inclusion.

Critics, on the other hand, say that highlighting LGBTQ characters, books, and other materials goes beyond being supportive of those individuals to actively promoting LGBTQ lifestyles in schools and other public settings.

Supporters and opponents generally agree on one thing – whether they’re deemed as offensive or reaffirming – LGBTQ books and other materials are protected under the First Amendment freedoms enshrined in the U.S. Constitution.

Earlier this year, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill, dubbed that state’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill, that bans teaching about sexual orientation and gender identity “in a manner that is not age appropriate or developmentally appropriate” for K-3 students.

North Carolina’s Senate passed a “Parents’ bill of Rights” on June 1 that would prohibit curriculum on topics such as gender identity and sexual orientation through the third grade. The bill, currently stalled in a House rules committee, also would direct N.C. educators and healthcare providers to inform parents of any change their child’s “pronouns,” signifying that the child identifies as a different sex than that at birth.

Opponents of both the Florida law and the pending North Carolina bill characterize such measures as “state-sanctioned bigotry” that creates a “discriminatory environment against” youth who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ), according to news reports.

Supporters of the North Carolina bill say the Parents’ Bill of Rights would codify parents’ rights to direct their children’s education and determine when it’s appropriate to discuss such matters with their children.

Meanwhile, several “Drag Queen Story Hour” events – which, as the name implies, feature drag queens reading stories to children in libraries, schools, and bookstores, according to the organization’s website – planned as part of the annual “Pride Month” celebrations that LGBTQ organizations observe in June also have drawn controversy.

Several Triangle area towns have been drawn into the fray surrounding “Drag Queen Story Hour” events. The events are largely sponsored by LGBTQ organizations such as Equality NC and Drag Queen Story Hour, a national organization that has local chapters and seeks to introduce community members to drag queens and have them read to children in family-friendly settings, according to multiple news outlets.

One such event that had been scheduled for April 1 at the Cary Theater in downtown Cary, planned by a Durham-based “drag collective,” was canceled following complaints that the drag queens’ stage names referenced body parts, sexual acts, and were inappropriate for children, IndyWeek reported earlier this month.

Apex’s mayor initially said that the Drag Queen Story Hour would not be included in a local “Pride festival” scheduled to be held at the Apex town hall earlier this month – reportedly because of threats of violence – though the “story hour” ultimately went on as planned, The (Raleigh) News & Observer reported June 12.

A Drag Queen Story Hour even for children that had been planned for July 9 in Hickory, called “Red, white, and Q,” has been canceled as a result of staffing issues, an ABC affiliate in Charlotte reported.

The North Carolina Museum of Art also held “Artful Story Time” on April 20 in which a drag queen from Durham, “Stormie Daie,” read for children. The event was described as “best for ages 2 and up with adult caregivers,” according to the museum’s website.

A church in Hickory, Wingate United Methodist Church, is reportedly scheduled to host a “Union County Pride Children’s Drag Story Hour and Crafts Party” on September 17 of this year.

Goldman told the newspaper Wednesday that Alamance County’s public library system hasn’t hosted a “Drag Queen Story Hour” event at any of the county’s libraries during her tenure as director. “That is not a regular story we’ve ever had,” she told the newspaper Wednesday.

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