Lafayette City Council proclaims June Pride Month as LGBTQ residents fight for library presence | New
Pride Month continues to be a struggle for the LGBTQ+ population in Lafayette Parish despite the progress made in recent years.
The annual June celebration, which is growing locally and gaining momentum, added a parade this year as well as other activities where the LGBTQ+ community and their friends, family and supporters could gather and celebrate.
On Friday, two Lafayette City Council members presented a proclamation, signed by all but Councilman Andy Naquin, to local LGBTQ+ representatives recognizing June as Pride Month. This is the second year in a row that the city council has granted the recognition and the second year that Lafayette mayor-president Josh Guillory has not.
Instead, Guillory issued a statement on equal rights, without discrimination based on sexual orientation and the like without ever mentioning Pride Month or LGBTQ, although an email from communications director Jamie Angelle containing the statement mentioned “MP Guillory Pride Month Statment” in the subject line.
“It’s not lost on me that the council members who sparked this discussion at city hall are the two black council members,” Matthew Humphrey, president of Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians, said Friday. and Gays (PFLAG) Lafayette. “It also didn’t escape me that the two female council members signed their support. It’s because they are part of the minority community.”
They know, he said, what it’s like to be asked to sit in the back, to be denied the right to vote, to face limits on their ability to marry .
City Council Deputy Speaker Glenn Lazard, reading a statement on Friday, said: “We strongly support the rights of all citizens to equality and freedom from discrimination.”
He praised the “immeasurable impact” of LGBTQ+ people on the cultural, civic and economic success of the city of Lafayette, committed the council to supporting “the visibility, dignity and equality of LGBTQ+ citizens” and called on the residents of the city of Lafayette “to adhere to these principles and, with friends and allies, to work to eliminate prejudice against all citizens.”
Pride month began with a new controversy involving the Lafayette Parish public library system, the source of struggles for LGBTQ+ residents this year.
On May 31, Library Director Danny Gillane told librarians they were no longer allowed to create displays of books about a particular segment of the population or controversial topics like Pride Month, Black History Month and Women’s History Month.
Gillane said at the time that he was trying to protect the books and videos by not drawing attention to them following three attempts by two people who do not live in Lafayette Parish to ban the books and a video.
None were banned, but restrictions were placed on the video by the library board and Gillane moved the teen non-fiction section to the adult non-fiction section to appease board members. the library and some patrons concerned that teens and children are coming across books on LGBTQ issues.
Gillane’s decision to restrict book exhibit topics attracted national publicity. Various local groups issued statements opposing the policy, including the Lafayette branch of the NAACP, Lafayette Citizens Against Censorship, Move the Mindset, and the League of Women Voters of Lafayette.
The library board is due to meet at 5:15 p.m. Wednesday. Board member James Thomas asked chairman Robert Judge, who opposed Drag Queen Story Time at the library before he was appointed to the board. of directors, to include the question of the posting of books on the agenda for discussion.
Article 4, Section 3 of the Board Bylaws published online states that “Board members also have the right to put matters on the agenda.”
Thomas told The Acadiana Advocate on Thursday that the judge denied his request because board action was not required.
“Since it was such a big topic, about national news and all, I wanted the board to have a discussion,” Thomas said.
He intends to comment on the display issue at the meeting and has questions. He declined to elaborate.
Councilor Pat Lewis noted on Friday that the parish council appoints most members of the library board. The city council has no say.
“I’d rather he didn’t do that,” Lewis said of Gillane’s decision. “I would like him to recant.”
Lazard also said he didn’t support the decision.
“I don’t think that’s a good policy,” he said.
Humphrey called the events unfolding around the country and in Lafayette a new era of civil rights, encouraging all minority groups, including LGBTQ+, black people and Latinos, to unite and push back.
“Lafayette’s LGBTQ community will accept nothing more than full buy-in from its elected officials,” he said. “They are welcome to be left behind on the wrong side of history.”