Library staff in Cork have confirmed that they will continue offering queer books despite the intimidation and verbal abuse they have recently experienced from a group of anti-LGBTQ+ protestors.
In recent weeks, there have been multiple Gardaí reports of people entering the Grand Parade Library and objecting to the presence of LGBTQ+ reading material. In addition to subjecting the staff to intimidation, verbal abuse and slurs, the group has also recorded videos of workers without their consent.
Members of this anti-LGBTQ+ organisation were also seen destroying a copy of This Book is Gay, written by trans author and advocate Juno Dawson.
Have these people been arrested yet @gardainfo @GardaTraffic ? https://t.co/ltFo40sjzV
— Dr Panti Bliss-Cabrera (@PantiBliss) March 14, 2023
Cork City Council is responding to reports regarding the incident, with a spokesperson telling the“been subjected to campaigning from groups who object to LGBT+ reading lists which are available to young adults”.
At a Cork City Council meeting on Monday, March 13, a report was issued stating that Cork City Libraries will contribute to the development of an LGBTQ+ policy document for municipal authorities worldwide because “…libraries have a key role in combating anti-LGBT+ hate, in policy-making, enabling publications, providing collections relevant to the community, [and] providing safe spaces…”
Labour councillor John Maher has stressed the importance of showing solidarity with the library staff, saying, “It is important that we send out the message that libraries are safe, are centres of learning, are places of inclusion and diversity, and that we reinforce to our staff that we are standing with them.”
Staff being recorded against their will and subjected to "pedophile slurs"… Books about LGBTQ+ lives being ripped up..
Fair play to Cork's public library for not bowing to this intimidation from radicalised extremists. https://t.co/EpEDvthKdO
— Aoife Gallagher 🏳️🌈🏳️⚧️ (@aoifegall) March 14, 2023
Historically, Cork libraries have taken part in Cork Pride, and featured LGBTQ+ writers and literature annually in the Cork World Book Festival.
Many local Cork library-goers have issued statements of solidarity and support for the staff, who have also reportedly been gifted thoughtful gestures, including bouquets of flowers, letters of support and chocolates from the community.
Our libraries are places of thought, knowledge, learning, and sharing. This fixation by some on specific holdings is nothing short of pathological. If it’s not for you then don’t read it, but do not impose your choice on someone else or abuse staff. https://t.co/MTZdKX58T1
— Michael Waldron (@michaeljwaldron) March 13, 2023
Similarly, in Dublin last month, a small local group made attempts to remove LGBTQ+ books written by Juno Dawson from the age 12-14 sections of libraries in Rush, Swords, and Tallaght.
Many of the LGBTQ+ books available in public libraries are part of the government-approved Rainbow Reads list, which contains more than 100 LGBTQ+ inclusive stories for young readers. These books celebrate diversity and inclusivity by highlighting LGBTQ+ characters, and the list was created with input from Belong To, the HSE’s Sexual Health and Crisis Prevention Programme, the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation LGBTQ+ Group, and TENI.
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