Over the past week I have been contacted and asked by several Great Falls citizens whether or not the Great Falls Public Library is planning to host and sponsor events for ‘Pride Month’ this June, as they have in the past.
E-City Beat published a blog post last Thursday raising a similar question and as a result I received several more inquiries about the matter over the Memorial Day holiday weekend.
Just this afternoon I received an email in my City of Great Falls city commission mailbox from Library Director Susie McIntyre spelling out the library’s course of action on this issue.
All City emails are available to the public and in the interest of full transparency and as a response to public inquiry I am providing the text of McIntyre’s email below.
“Attached please find the Library Monthly Events list for June.
I apologize for the lateness in sending this document. Please see the Library’s statement about PRIDE activities below my signature.
Please let me know if you have any questions.
The Library was invited to participate in Pride Fest on June 24th. We have participated in Pride events in the past. We had planned to provide a craft activity and to promote reading and the Library through an informational table.
This year they are having a larger event and there will be Drag Queens in attendance.
Last week, Governor Gianforte signed HB 359 into law. HB 359 specifically prohibits Drag Queen Story Hour at public libraries. The wording of HB 359 is vague. It is a bit difficult to understand whether or not it would be illegal for the Library to participate in PRIDE given that there will be Drag Queens and minors present. After consulting with our community partners and the City Attorney, We have canceled the Great Falls Public Library’s participation in Pride this year.
It also seems unclear if the posting of our Mister Sisters video on the Library YouTube channel violates HB 359. On the advice of the City Attorney and out of an abundance of caution, the Library has set the Mister Sisters Video from Pride 2021 to private so it can longer be seen by the public (including minors).
The Library is for everyone. We are committed to providing a collection and programming that meets the rich and diverse needs of our community.
We will monitor how HB 359 is viewed by the courts so that we can both follow all Montana laws and ensure that we continue to serve all members of our community.
“There are still stories to tell.” HoidSusie McIntyre, Director (she/her)
Great Falls Public Library
301 2nd Avenue North
Great Falls, MT 59401