Another public library in Ohio had scheduled an event which included drag show-related activities, but this time the public response ended up resulting in a cancellation.
The Licking County Library was to host “A Universe of Stories – Galaxy of Diversity” for the town of Newark’s Pride Day. Featured activities included a “drag queen celestial makeup tutorial, flag button and rainbow wing crafts, a safe-sex program […] and games,” according to the Newark Advocate.
After information about the event was posted on social media, Ohio Speaker of the House Larry Householder took action: He sent off a letter to the library system ripping the program.
“When I was first informed our public libraries were being used to teach teenage boys how to become drag queens, I thought it was a joke,” he wrote. “But the joke is apparently on the taxpayers, who fund our libraries. This is a stunningly bizarre breach of the public trust. And it must stop.
“Our libraries are an incubator for thought and ideas, for debate and discussion. On this point, we can all agree. But I can also assure you the taxpayers aren’t interested in seeing their hard-earned dollars being used to teach teenage boys how to become drag queens. I expect this to end immediately.”
In response, the Newark Ohio Pride Coalition pointed out that the event was paid for with an independent grant, not public funds.
[T]he Newark Ohio Pride Coalition explained the event was aimed at celebrating “the individuality of our local LGBTQ+ and allied teens” in preparation for the Newark Ohio Pride Festival scheduled for the following day. In addition to an optional make-up tutorial and arts and crafts, the group said the event intended to facilitate an educational, public health component in the form of a safer sex program.
“…We would like to conclude our statement by publicly asking Speaker Larry Householder to respect the civil liberties of Newark, Ohio’s residents,” the group wrote. “We also ask that, in the future, Speaker Householder take the time to gather accurate facts, prior to issuing a factually inaccurate response to a program hosted by and for our community.”
By late Friday, the Newark Ohio Pride Coalition announced the Licking County Library System cancelled the LGBTQ teen event “due to pressure from state-wide elected officials.”
Licking County Library Director Babette Wofter said it became too difficult for their organization to control the misinformation surrounding the event, so she thought it best to cancel it.
NOPC said it would host “Universe” at another locale yet to be decided.
Last month, a Delaware County, Ohio public library had announced that it would host a summer series called “Drag 101.” According to instructor Selena West, the course is about “the building blocks of how to do drag [but has] nothing to do with sex or gender identity at all.”
The Advocate reports that the location of this event, too, has since been moved due to West allegedly received death threats.
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