Display Promoting Education Causing Controversy

Since their inception, libraries have been places for citizens to educate themselves about what's going on in the world around them.

But some critics say a display at the Wichita Falls Public Library is teaching a lesson better left unlearned.

It's called "Pride in the Falls", and it contains all sorts of books and literature aimed at promoting gay rights in our area.

Gail Murphy is one of the people behind the display and helped start it last year.

"People who might be struggling with family members or a young person coming out who's gay knows that they can get the information that they need here to really understand in a better sense about what's going on," she explained.

The issue of gay rights has long been a controversial topic within the United States, but what's adding to that controversy in reference to the display is a banner at the top which reads Pride in the Falls.

Some critics said the banner is misleading, however the organizers say they used the term pride in because it's a common term in the GLBT community, and this display is all about education.

"There was concern with the Pride in the Falls campaign folks," said Mayor Glenn Barham, "We expressed some concerns to them and they've chosen not to trademark that phrase. Anybody can use that phrase who chooses to do so."

Library Administrator Lesley Daly said so far, she's only had one person complain about the display.

Even if that number were greater, however, Daly said the display would stay.

"We're in the game of providing information of all types," said Daly, "Whether it's going to cause consternation; whether it's going to be controversial. That's what a library is there for. It's for the whole community."

Mayor Barham said he's also fielded a few calls about the display, but has no intentions of censoring someone else's Constitutionally protected rights.

"I don't condone the activity by no means or no stretch of the imagination," said Barham, "but I certainly support their right to exercise their free speech rights.

"How many people has the United States lost over the years to defend that right? And continue to lose lives today to defend that right?" Barham continued, "So I'm certainly not going to go on record telling those folks they cannot express their opinion."

The "Pride in the Falls" display will stay up until the end of June, and organizers said they've already reserved the space for next June as well.

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