Updated June 12 at 4:05 p.m.
Leander Public Library will be closed to the public June 15, the day a private event called “Drag Queen Story Time” is scheduled to take place, according to a June 11 statement on the city of Leander’s website. One of the library’s conference rooms will be accessible to people attending the event, which is hosted by Open Cathedral Church.
Attendees are required to have a ticket. Tickets are sold out, according to a web page for the event.
The city of Leander “will designate areas near the library and manage resources to allow for peaceful assembly outdoors” on the day of the event, according to the city’s statement.
Posted June 5 at 3:53 p.m.
City of Leander seeks feedback on library events following ‘Drag Queen Story Hour’ cancellation
After two library events, including “Drag Queen Story Hour” and “Summer Superhero Saturday,” were canceled at the Leander Public Library at the end of May, the city of Leander is reviewing its library programs and soliciting feedback from the community.
The city is asking for input from Leander residents through an online survey, in which residents can share their thoughts on library activities. The survey will be open through the end of June, and results will be included in the review, according to city spokesperson Mike Neu. How the data and conclusions from the review will be presented is still to be determined, according to Neu.
The review will look at events currently scheduled at the library and examine how entertainment groups are selected and screened. Central Texas Library System, a consulting service that provides libraries in the Austin area with entertainment options, will assist with the review, according to a statement from the city.
The city of Leander announced in a statement May 23 that it would be cancelling two of its scheduled events, “Summer Superhero Saturday” on June 8 and “Drag Queen Story Hour” on June 15. A follow-up statement clarified the events were canceled because they involve guests not included in the Central Texas Library System’s recommended entertainers list.
The statement also noted the decision to cancel the “Drag Queen Story Hour” event was made by city and library management staff after they received input from citizens and community stakeholders.
The city contracts with third-party company Library Systems and Services LLC, which manages the Leander Public Library staff and programming. LS&S does not conduct or request background checks on its presenters currently, according to the city’s statement.
Leander Mayor Troy Hill said he thinks the library review is a good idea.
“I think if the library is going to bring outside groups in, then they need to have a system for background checks, and that’s going to apply to all groups—not certain groups, all groups,” Hill said.
In response to the controversy surrounding “Drag Queen Story Hour” and its cancellation, Hill said he does not believe the city should have stepped into such a divisive issue.
“I don’t think the library should become politicized and wade into divisive issues,” Hill said. “For the people who supported the storytelling this time, the next time somebody wants to do it on the life of Donald Trump, they’re not going to support it. But once we say yes to one group, we’ve got to say yes to every group.”
Drag queen story time to continue
After the story time event was canceled, Open Cathedral Church, a church based in Leander, rented one of the Leander Public Library’s conference rooms to host a drag queen story time. The event will take place June 15 and will feature a drag queen reading books to guests, according to Ryan Hart, the lead minister for Open Cathedral.
Hart said he first heard about the event and its subsequent cancellation on Facebook. He said he saw comments saying “keep that stuff in Austin” and was concerned cancelling the event would send the wrong message to children.
“Some people feel different and feel isolated and have been made to feel in different ways that they don’t belong,” Hart said. “My concern in cancelling the drag queen story time and letting it disappear is that it sends a message deliberately or accidentally … to kids that if you feel really different, it’s going to be shut down.”
Hart said hosting the event was a no brainer for his church, which believes in diversity and community. He said the church is currently in the process of interviewing and background checking potential presenters for the event. So far, more than 1,600 people have said they are interested in attending the event on Facebook.
“Whoever needs to be there we hope feels welcome and feels invited to come, whether that’s one child or 100 people,” Hart said.