Library’s Pride month display gets mixed feedback

Published: Jun. 25, 2021 at 9:33 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 29, 2021 at 8:58 AM CDT
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JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - The Craighead County Jonesboro Public Library recently received both negative and positive feedback over its Pride Month display.

The library’s director, David Eckert, said the response came as a shock.

“I’m not exactly sure why there was a problem this year, especially because before I started working here, we’ve always put this type of material out every June,” Eckert said. “It was kind of the same. It had actually been up for three weeks before I heard a complaint.”

This month’s display includes several books in the children and teen’s section addressing sexuality and LGBTQ+ pride.

It also included a poster explaining different types of sexuality. Kids could pick out a bookmark that matched their sexuality.

“A lot of these books are about inclusivity,” said Eckert. “We’re trying to include everybody, and there are some books that are in the parent-teacher section that maybe if they have a child that is really curious about this, or how to deal with this, or things like that.”

One user posted on Facebook: “I’m having some righteous anger here. This is a public library, and this isn’t acceptable for children to many. Be warned.”

On Monday night, the Craighead County Quorum Court meeting was packed with several people speaking in favor of the display and a handful against it.

Arkansas State Senator Dan Sullivan was among those voicing his opinion, claiming the display was not appropriate for children.

“I don’t have a problem with those books being in the library, personally,” he said. “My questions are, are they appropriate in the children section?”

Community member Gary Laton had an opposing viewpoint.

“I’ll never understand what it’s like to be homosexual, but after I read it, I can understand their problems, and maybe I’ll emphasize and make changes,” he said. “I don’t understand what I can’t read.”

So far, Eckert said the library has received three formal complaints and about 30 emails in support of the display.

“We’ve gotten feedback, I guess on both sides of the issue, and we just try to take it all into account,” he said.

While Sullivan had suggested cutting the library’s funding in an earlier social media post, the issue was not mentioned during Monday night’s quorum court meeting.

County Judge Marvin Day said the library will not lose any funding because the quorum court does not have a say in how much money the library receives or how it spends it.

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