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Union Co. Pride organization says library was forced to end participation in September Pride events

The seminar, book club, and festival is planned for the week of Sept. 16-22.
The seminar, book club, and festival is planned for the week of Sept. 16-22.
Published: Jun. 21, 2022 at 5:38 PM EDT
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MONROE, N.C. (WBTV) - A Union County organization is persevering with its planned Pride events after it says one of its collaborators was told to step down.

Cristal Robinson is the president of Union County Pride. Since March and April, she has tirelessly planned her organization’s first Pride festival for September with the help of the Union County Public Library System.

“Pride All Over Town” is scheduled from September 16-22 and includes multiple seminars, a book club, and a festival.

Robinson says she received positive responses from the library about participating. She says they were on tap to have a booth at the festival, host an off-campus book club for teens, and participate in seminars.

“The library was going to do a book club that would be off-campus with teens and they were going to provide the books,” she said.

Robinson says everything was going smoothly until two weeks ago when she received an email saying the library could no longer participate.

“I got an email saying that they had to not do any of it,” she said.

Robinson says county leaders are responsible for the library pulling out of the events, and she believes they backed out due to the organization hosting a drag queen reading hour at a local church.

WBTV asked a county spokesperson if county officials were aware of the events, if the library was asked to end its partnership, and if county leaders were part of that decision.

They released a statement that reads in part.

“As a government entity, our organization typically participates in and promotes municipal-sponsored events or those events sponsored by organizations that have received funding support directly from Union County Government,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

Three of the four Union County public library branches have reading displays for Pride Month, called “Take Pride in What You Read.”

“Currently, three of our four library branches have a ‘Take Pride in What You Read’ display for Pride Month. The literary works that are a part of the Pride Month display are all contained in the Union County Library collection and are regularly available for patrons to check out and enjoy. Due to space limitations, our smallest branch rotates content and is planning to host the Pride Month display next week,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

Robinson said the county should direct its attention to being more inclusive.

“They need to include everyone and that includes all the individuals in the protective classes,” she said.

Robinson says she and the other organizations are still moving forward with their festival, seminars, and book club - regardless of the county’s support.

As far as the book club, she is considering getting help from local educators and university libraries.

“We’re going to keep going,” she said.

Full Statement from the County:

Currently, three of our four library branches have a “Take Pride in What You Read” display for Pride Month. The literary works that are a part of the Pride Month display are all contained in the Union County Library collection and are regularly available for patrons to check out and enjoy. Due to space limitations, our smallest branch rotates content and is planning to host the Pride Month display next week. As a government entity, our organization typically participates in and promotes municipal-sponsored events, or those events sponsored by organizations that have received funding support directly from Union County Government.

WBTV emailed the county manager and the deputy county manager asking if they were involved in the library’s participation and the “Pride All Over Town” events.

We have not received a response at the time of this writing.

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