No Discrimination, No Retaliation: Greenville County Library System

No Discrimination, No Retaliation: Greenville County Library System

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Brandon Inabinet started this petition to Greenville County Council and

News media and social media outlets have reported that on March 18 & 19, two Greenville County Library Managers, at the two largest branches in the county (Five Forks and Pelham Road), were removed from their positions in relation to the Drag Queen Story Hour of February 17. A third manager has resigned due to the toxic work environment that led up to these firings.

Events at a public library may be sponsored by the library or may be community events sponsored by independent organizations who just happen to use the space to assemble. This event falls into the second category, wherein an individual (with valid library card and application with agreement to follow library policies) used this public library space. Like any public meeting, individuals who want to attend should; others who disagree or have no interest in the meeting (whether religious, home owners associations, or otherwise) should refrain from attending. A library has no right to discriminate against patrons because a political or religious group may disagree with the content of their agenda.

Because of misrepresentation and misunderstanding about the nature of the event, it garnered significant media coverage. In response, the librarians in question handled the situation professionally, enduring hate mail and hostile treatment by patrons. No employee added “fuel to the fire” of public controversy. Instead, each did their job of assisting patrons, answering phone calls, and soothing employees’ fears. Each followed state law, library policies, and American Library Association (ALA) ethics, in order to ensure that First Amendment rights and equal access were protected.

Now, the GCLS has acted to damage the career of some of its most respected managers and trusted employees, in order to create an atmosphere of intimidation. It sends the signal that no decision of the Executive Director is to be questioned, no difference of identity is to be tolerated, and expressing any difference of opinion is tantamount to termination.  Surveillance and dismissals are being used to quiet staff who stood for equal patron access, as well as to deliver job-ending retribution against staff who stood up for or delivered access to gender-non-conforming patrons.

Employee retaliation undermines the protection of important librarian rights, including the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the ALA Bill of Rights. More worrisome in this context, it sets a precedent that a future patron viewed as “provocative” or “unwanted” by some in the community could be denied assistance or resources.

To that end, we ask the Board of Trustees to offer a formal public apology, reinstate terminated employees, and dismiss the current Executive Director.

0 have signed. Let’s get to 7,500!
At 7,500 signatures, this petition is more likely to get a reaction from the decision maker!