UPDATE: Leander Public Library to be closed June 15, the day Drag Queen Story Time is scheduled

14

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.

Events canceled

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.

Share this story
14 comments
COMMENT
  1. To think that it’s ok to subject children to drag queens is nothing short of child abuse. God’s Word is specific about homosexuality – God calls it an abomination (Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13) and destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, forever left desolate, because of the rampant homosexualtiy within it. (Genesis chapter 19). In the book of Jude, we are told that those in Sodom and Gomorrah who had given themselves over to homosexuality would suffer the punishment of eternal fire. (Jude verses 6-7) Romans chapter one talks about how God essentially gave homosexuals over to vile passions and debased minds to receive the penalty due them – Romans 1: 26-28. To expose children to those who choose to dress in drag is desensitizing these children to immorality and perversion. That must be the goal of this event though because young minds are impressionable. I bet the Library wouldn’t allow a Christian story telling time with teachings from the Bible.

    • The world is not Christian. If you don’t want to participate in the inclusion of everyone equally regardless of beliefs or lifestyles, then don’t attend. Don’t force your beliefs on others. A person’s physical appearance is not a determinant of their quality. Kids are not harmed by seeing someone dressed differently or expressing their gender through style.

      • How about believers in human sacrifice and canabalism?

        How about the Thuggee Cult of India…beastiality? Who are we to judge anyone right?

      • “Don’t force your beliefs on others…”

        then…

        “A person’s physical appearance is not a determinant of their quality. Kids are not harmed by seeing someone dressed differently or expressing their gender through style….”

        The second statement is your ‘belief’. Not everyone shares it…hence the controversy.

    • As others have pointed out, the United States is not governed by the laws of Christianity. Doing so would be a clear violation of the separation of church and state required by the Constitution.

      Also, please note that the library is not subjecting children to drag queens, the children’s parents are. If the parents object they have a simple remedy, don’t go.

      I don’t know about permitting a Christian story time. But I do know that if it is permitted, the library would also be required to permit an Islamic story time, a Hindu story time, a Wiccan story time, or even a Satanic story time. Unless you are willing to go there, give up your dream of a Christian story time.

      • Why would the library be required to permit Islamic/Hindu/Wiccan/etc story time if it presented Christian story time? Clearly, the library does what it wants with no regard to what the public who funds it wants.

        This whole controversey involves the library sponsoring drag queens reading stories to children and though the pushback from the community caused them to cancel Drag Queen Story Time, the library has found another organization to present it anyway.

        According to their website, Open Cathederal Church believes the following: “We believe in community, not conformity. We cherish our differences and celebrate our unity. We are straight, gay, white, black, cis, trans, young and old. We are able bodied and we are people who have ability differences. We are loved for who we are.”

        On their Facebook page, they post memes such as:
        https://www.facebook.com/pg/opencathedral/photos/?ref=page_internal
        “The men have had 1000 years. It’s time for the women”
        “The Resistance…we stand with you”
        “This Sunday…God’s Love resists racism + patriarchy”
        “Ignored & Abhorred Women of faith…the future is female…the past was female too”

        This ‘Church’ meets at Camacho Elementary…but I’m sure ‘separation of church and state’ doesn’t apply here, somehow…right?

  2. I’m a Christian and my mother introduced me to drag in films when I was younger. She’s conservative surprisingly. I think it actually made me a more tolerant and accepting human being. As Stefanie says, our world is made of many different beliefs. If you don’t agree, don’t attend.

    Drag is an art form, and while it is often associated with the LBGTQ community, there are people that aren’t gay that participate in it.

  3. Community Impact Staff

    Hi all,

    Our staff has recently implemented our community rules regarding comments on our site. It was decided that a few ground rules will be helpful as we have meaningful discussions around stories. We have already removed two comments for using a false identity.

    You can get more information regarding how we moderate via this link: https://communityimpact.com/privacy-policy-terms-of-service/#privacy

    Thank you! We know this topic can be divisive. Please remember to be respectful of one another.

  4. The library is funded through taxpayer dollars. If the taxpayers of this city feel it isn’t proper, then it should be eliminated. And vice versa. So this survey is a good idea imo. But they need to make sure only people who live in this town are considered. Others can have opinions of course. Good job to the leaders for handling this situation as best as they can.

  5. I believe the city took the best course of action in this case. While I support the LBGQT+ community I would prefer to see the library reading programs remain uncontroversial and that the participants go through a vetting process. I am also happy to hear that the Open Cathedral Church has stepped in to continue the story hour in the short term. I just came across this sight recently and look forward to learning more about our community.

  6. Below is additional info that seems to have been overlooked in previous stories regarding this event. Perhaps those associated with this organization provided full transparency at the events themselves but in case someone missed it, understand that Drag Queen Story Hour was not a one-off local event. Rather, it is organized by a production company from San Francisco that actively pushes these events nationwide. Link to the organization is provided below along with a few snips from the website.

    While the organization and the local librarian are free to collude and schedule such events, local residents who fund the library and its employees’ wages are certainly free to provide their perspective as well…and it appears local residents have done just that. While I certainly do not presume to speak for all 27,000+ local residents, my opinion is that, in the future, contoversial topics such as having Drag Queens reading stories aloud should be reserved for adults and events for children should be geared more toward…well…children. Either way, I appreciate the opportunity to provide feedback and look forward to future opportunities to be heard as well.

    https://www.dragqueenstoryhour.org/

    “WHAT IS DRAG QUEEN STORY HOUR?

    Drag Queen Story Hour (DQSH) is just what it sounds like—drag queens reading stories to children in libraries, schools, and bookstores. DQSH captures the imagination and play of the gender fluidity of childhood and gives kids glamorous, positive, and unabashedly queer role models. In spaces like this, kids are able to see people who defy rigid gender restrictions and imagine a world where people can present as they wish, where dress up is real.

    Drag Queen Story Hour (DQSH) was created by Michelle Tea and RADAR Productions in San Francisco. It started out as drag queens reading stories to children in libraries and grew into a global phenomenon! DQSH now offers literary and creative programming for kids and teens of all ages led by drag queens, kings, and creatures all over the world. Our organization’s headquarters are in New York City where we create programming curriculum, produce over a hundred events a year, and provide resources, training, and support to build our growing network of DQSH chapters all over the world.

    RADAR is a Bay Area queer literary arts organization creating and supporting a community of queer artists through commissioning, developing and presenting ground-breaking literary work. Our programs include SHOW US YOUR SPINES a monthly residency with the Hormel Center at the SFPL; The legendary Sister Spit tour and a yearly literary and visual arts collaboration with local community spaces.”

  7. Congrats! You made Fox News and the Laura Ingraham Show. Now, small communities throughout the country will be aware and alert when events such as this come to their town.

    Great advertising for Leander, too. The hipsters in Austin and the refugees moving here from San Francisco now have a friendly, affordable suburb to escape to.

    Again…Great Work! Enjoy your socialist utopia. I’ll be cashing-out and moving someplace sane.

Leave A Reply

Marisa Charpentier
Marisa Charpentier joined Community Impact in September 2018. After working as an intern, she became a reporter for the Cedar Park | Leander edition in October 2018. Charpentier graduated from The University of Texas at Austin with degrees in journalism and Plan II Honors.
Back to top