Libraries in Greenville County, S.C., have been ordered to remove all displays after a manager refused to take down a Pride one.
Nathan Schmaltz , the manager of the Travelers Rest branch, rejected the library administration’s order to remove a “Read with Pride” display, prompting the board to vote to remove all displays from libraries in the district. The decision came just three months after the board instated a new policy that requires displays to be approved by the library system’s executive director.
Last year, the library system removed LGBTQ+ displays from several libraries in the district, until they were quickly returned after public backlash. Schmaltz told local news outlet The Post and Courierthat since then, no other displays have triggered action from the board.
He said that he refused to remove the display because he did not want to cause the LGBTQ+ community any more “pain or distress,” and that their branch had received comments from community members overwhelmingly in support of the display, and only one threatening phone call.
“I’m very thankful for the support the community has given us. It’s been overwhelmingly positive,” Schmaltz said. “[The board] wrote the policy. They could have written it better.”
The order from the board is temporary, and all Pride materials currently displayed can remain up until the end of June. The board also designated $25,000 for extra security at the Travelers Rest branch if needed over possible threats to the library.
At the conference following the vote, many citizens were unable to speak out against the board’s decision after Chair Allan Hill abruptly ended the meeting. Hill had allowed a Baptist pastor to ramble about “sexual proclivities” past the allotted three minutes, but forbade Stephen Shelato, a former librarian and frequent attendee, from speaking, as he had exceeded his time limit in a past meeting. Hill ordered officers to remove Shelato, then suddenly adjourned.
One patron who was unable to speak, Danielle Harbor, who frequents the Travelers Rest branch, shared her prepared remarks with The Post after the chaotic meeting.
“It is a symbol to indicate to the LGBTQ population that has so often not felt like part of the community, that they are welcome, accepted, and safe,” she said. “Is that really something you want to take away?”