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Residents, Texas lawmaker criticize library's 2017 LGBT pride display

The Temple Public Library has become the subject of controversy over a Pride Month display from last year.

TEMPLE -- An LGBT display at the Temple Public Library continued to draw attention from both sides of the discussion on Tuesday. Some said they were concerned for children, while others said knowledge was power.

The whole debate stemmed from a display that was posted in June 2017. It included a poster that said "Be inspired. Celebrate Pride Month" -- angering some on social media.

Last year, an activist group Concerned Christian Citizens said it took offense to the LGBT book and board display. And in response, those in favor of having an open display of information at the public library garnered more than 2800 supporters in a petition. Meanwhile, more than 950 people signed another petition saying the LGBT Pride month display went as far as to promote that LGBT lifestyle.

On Tuesday, speeches, lasting nearly three hours, dealt with many more issues than just the library display from last June. Many of the speeches used Bible verses, Center for Disease Control statistics and civil rights history to make their differing points.

"And that children who are sexualized too early or too easily are victimized," a resident who spoke against the LGBT display said. "And that we as responsible adults are supposed to be the guardians at the gate."

Many said they wanted to protect children's minds and discussions about sexuality were only meant for the home -- while others said they wanted the library to be a safe place for everyone.

"I don't know what Jesus teaches you, but he teaches me to love everyone, no conditions (clapping). I don't know what Jesus teaches you, but Jesus teaches me to serve everyone," said one supporter of the display who self-identified as Christian. He said the displays can move LGBT kids away from substance abuse and risk-taking behaviors.

The Library Board said it would work on new display policies and would vote later this year.

"You can't limit what's in a library if it's for the public," said board member Meg Pitrucha.

State Representative Hugh Shine responded to today's debate, saying if he had known about the display, he would have demanded its removal. Below is his full statement.

If I had been a member of the Temple City Council and learned of the LBGT display in the Temple Library, I would have insisted on its removal immediately. I do not support the display, which is contrary to Central Texas' foundation of faith and family. I understand the City of Temple is developing a policy initiative that will address this issue. My hopes are that the policy will reflect the Christian principles, values, and virtues of our community and permanently prevent such displays in the future.

"We are talking about an agenda that wants to force itself and its values and moralize my children right out from underneath me in my publicly, taxpayer-funded library," another person against the display said.

But, supporters of the display have said the library should represent multiple perspectives.

"This library is a sacred space for me. I dare say these thought-provoking and thoughtful displays which have been called into question are life-saving," said one supporter of the LGBT display at the library last June.