Somerville Public Library Hate Speech Policy

Libraries are sanctuary spaces for First Amendment rights. All persons are welcome and have the right to use the library free from discrimination and from threat to individual safety.

There is no “hate speech” exception to the First Amendment. Hate speech is any form of expression through which speakers intend to vilify, humiliate, or incite hatred against a group or a class of persons.

Moreover, hate speech stops being just speech and becomes conduct when it targets a particular individual or group, and includes behavior that interferes with a person’s ability to use the library.

Therefore, hate speech directed at library users, visitors, or staff, both in the physical library and on its social media platforms, is considered a  violation of the Library’s Rules of Conduct policy and will not be tolerated.

This policy statement is derived from "Hate Speech and Hate Crime", American Library Association, December 12, 2017. (Accessed November 20, 2018)

Approved by the Somerville Public Library Board of Trustees, November 14, 2018
Reviewed by City of Somerville Law Department, December 2018