Decision to Shut Down Pride, Black History Book Displays at Lafayette Libraries Get National Attention | New


A decision to halt controversial book exhibits like Pride Month has drawn national attention to Lafayette Parish Public Libraries from news outlets and at least one book author.

Over the past week, The Washington Post, ABC News and Newsweek shared an article online that the Associated Press distributed based on an article published by The Acadiana Advocate on May 31.

The story announced a decision by library director Danny Gillane not to allow exhibitions of books on controversial topics, including Pride Month which began on June 1 to celebrate LGBTQ citizens.

Danny Gillan

Pressed to find out which other groups wouldn’t be featured in book displays, Gillane declared Black History Month, Women’s History Month, Native American Heritage and Cajun Heritage.

Gillane’s directive does not remove books from libraries. It prohibits librarians from displaying them in displays.

In 2021, several public libraries in Lafayette Parish set up Pride Month displays showcasing LGBTQ books, leading Hilda Edmond, former vice president of the Library Board of Control, to complain to Gillane. Edmond, who was nominated by Mayor-President Josh Guillory, resigned shortly thereafter. There was no further discussion of the displays at library board meetings.


Book displays about specific segments of the community like this one for Pride Month in June 2021 are no longer permitted at Lafayette Parish Public Libraries in Lafayette, Louisiana.

Gillane said he thought if he exhibited books on controversial subjects like Pride month, it would prompt people to call for them to be removed from the library.

Margaret Atwood, author of “The Handmaid’s Tale” and anti-censorship campaigner, shared Newsweek’s version of the story on Twitter on June 3 with her international audience.

“The Handmaid’s Tale” is described on Wikipedia as “a futuristic dystopian novel” published in 1985 and translated into a television series that “is set in near-future New England, in a strongly patriarchal, white supremacist theonomic/theocratic state and totalitarian”. , known as the Republic of Gilead, which overthrew the government of the United States.”

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Warren and Mary Perrin, Cajun heritage advocates and authors, in a letter to local news outlets, urged residents to contact Gillane and ask her to “reconsider her unconstitutional directive – self-censorship – which threatens to undo a major part of the good work done over the past century to save the unique heritage and culture of Black, Cajun, and Native American people.”

The Perrins note that “these are rights established under the most extensive Equal Protection Clause of our Louisiana Constitution, not ‘political.’ They are in fact constitutionally protected rights.”

Women of Wisdom, a diverse nonprofit women’s group that seeks unity and inclusiveness among women, also released a statement on Friday opposing the new policy “prohibiting the posting of books on topics concerning specific segments of the population, including women, LGBTQIA+, Black, Cajun, Indigenous, Asian, and Latino, as well as topics that some might deem “controversial.”

“Make no mistake, this policy is discriminatory and hurtful to all members of our community,” the group wrote. “At WOW, we believe we are stronger together. Part of that strength is being able to share and celebrate who we are. We urge the Lafayette Parish Public Library to reverse that policy.”

Over the past 20 or so months, the library board has become increasingly conservative and controversial, with actions drawing ire from the black community and the LGBTQ community. In 2020 and 2021, Stephanie Armbruster and Robert Judge were appointed to the board. Prior to joining the board, both were active opponents of Drag Queen Story Time at the library. The judge was elected chairman of the board in November after serving just nine months and immediately tried to implement controversial changes.

Since then, Michael Lunsford of St. Martin Parish and executive director of Citizens for a New Louisiana, has challenged two books, seeking to have them banned. “This Book is Gay”, a non-fiction book for teens, was the first. A committee voted not to ban the book, and the full board voted 4 to 2 against its removal. Armbruster and Judge voted to remove it immediately. Instead, Gillane decided to move all teenage nonfiction to the adult fiction section, which appeased Lunsford and the board.


Lafayette Parish Library Board of Control Chairman Robert Judge and member Stephanie Armbruster speak before taking an article to ban the Scotty documentary

A second book that Lunsford tried to have removed also remains on library shelves after a committee voted against its removal. Another committee also voted against deleting an unrated documentary film about a man who arranged gay and lesbian sex for Hollywood stars. Instead, the board voted unanimously to treat “Scotty and the Secret Hollywood History” as NC-17 rated films. Only customers 17 years and older can access it.

The library board faced negative national attention in January 2021 after it rejected a state grant to buy books and hold talks about the history of suffrage, including black struggles to get the right to vote. Some board members complained that the moderators aligned were “too left-wing”.

The Lafayette Parish Council, which appoints most of the library board members, is to fill a vacancy Tuesday created by the resignation of former president Doug Palombo. Eleven people applied.


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