Union County officials cancel library’s participation in pride festival

UNION COUNTY, N.C. — The Union County Library abruptly backed out of plans to participate in the county’s pride events and will not participate in the festival.

Pride organizers said the decision came from Union County government leaders.

Union County Pride President Cristal Robinson is organizing the county’s first pride festival in September.

Robinson said they had plans with the library to host seminars this pride month and in September when the festival will be held.

Organizers also planned a drag queen story time and partnered with the library to host a book club for teens, because they said the library is a safe space.

“We’ve actually had a few kids who have committed suicide in the last five years, and I just want to tell them we live here,” Robinson said. “We have families here.”

Robinson said she got an email from a librarian that they were backing out of all pride events.

“It’s discriminatory,” Robinson said.

She asked for an explanation but didn’t get one, but Union County later sent Channel 9 a statement.

Union County officials said three of its four library branches have “Take Pride in What You Read” displays for Pride Month. The library’s collection is available to patrons.

Robinson said she doesn’t blame the library staff.

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So Robinson said she’s been contacted by employees in the county who said it was the County Manager Mark Watson, who probated involvement in pride events and required the library to scale back displays.

“To have the highest employee under the county commissioners inform they can’t do that is discriminatory and hostile,” Robinson said.

Robinson said they’ve contacted the Department of Justice for discrimination against a protected class by a government agency.

Channel 9 asked the county manager why he prohibited the library’s participation in pride events.

Union County government officials said that, “Due to space limitations, our smallest branch rotates content and is planning to host the Pride Month display next week. As a government entity, our organization typically participates in and promotes municipal-sponsored events or those events sponsored by organizations that have received funding support directly from Union County government.”

Robinson said they’ve received credible threats against the festival and said it’s disheartening to face discrimination from the county.

“That is very scary because we wanted to have a festival in a park,” Robinson said.

The county said three out of four county libraries have pride displays and the smaller branch will have one next week due to space.

Full statement from Union County:

“Currently, three of our four library branches have a “Take Pride in What You Read” display for Pride Month. The literary works that are a part of the Pride Month display are all contained in the Union County Library collection and are regularly available for patrons to check out and enjoy. Due to space limitations, our smallest branch rotates content and is planning to host the Pride Month display next week. As a government entity, our organization typically participates in and promotes municipal-sponsored events, or those events sponsored by organizations that have received funding support directly from Union County Government. County administration determined it was prudent to review events the Library was participating in, particularly ones we had not previously participated in. Further guidance on all events and program participation may be necessary to ensure Union County Government is consistent with participation in primarily municipal-sponsored events or with organizations that have received funding support, as well as consistent with the mission of the library.”

(Watch the video below: Charlotte Pride parade photo removed from museum at request of Gaston County manager)