Plans for a “drag queen story hour” at a Greenville County, South Carolina library have drawn competing online petitions and one group plans to protest outside during the event, WSPA reports.
“Early exposure to all the different kinds of beautiful people in the world helps our children become more kind, confident, and tolerant individuals. We are so excited to share this opportunity with the upstate community,” organizers said on Facebook. The story time is planned for Feb. 17 and organized by Mom’s Liberal Happy Hour SC, according to the Facebook event page.
Outside the Five Forks Branch Library opponents are planning to protest with what they’re calling a “Pro-Family Community Gathering,” according to WSPA.
Organizer Taylor Cox told the station: “They’re bringing a radical liberal agenda to our community.”
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“Whether you disagree with this politically from a religious standpoint, the mass majority of people would agree that doing an event that’s targeting children is wrong,” Cox said, according to WSPA.
Taylor also started a petition on Change.org to stop the story hour, which had collected more than 5,000 signatures as of Wednesday afternoon.
“Public Libraries have become a breeding ground for ‘Drag Queen Story Time’ all over the Country. This small percentage of the population has found a legal loophole to ensure they push their alternative lifestyles on our communities,” the petition states. “Drag Queens, used to be something adults saw in a comedy club or late night HBO specials. Do you want your children exposed to this?”
A competing petition on Change.orghas almost 1,700 signatures in support of the drag queen story hour as of Wednesday afternoon.
The Greenville County Public LIbrary System told Fox Carolinas that the group reserved event space for the story hour.
“This event is not sponsored or promoted by the Greenville County Library System. It is a reserved use of a public meeting space within the Meeting Spaces Use Policy and Regulations established by the Greenville County Library System’s Board of Trustees,” a library spokesman said in a statement provided to the station.
The library plans to hire off-duty police officers if the staff needs more security during the event, the library system’s Executive Director Beverly James said in a statement to WSPA.
The library’s board of directors reviewed its policies on events, James told the station. “The Board is constrained by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution that as a governmental agency it cannot regulate usage based on content. The Board further believes that our current regulations meet the free speech requirements of the First Amendment of the U. S. Constitution,” she said, according to WSPA.
Drag queen story hour events have been held at other libraries around the country, including Houston and Detroit, and some have drawn protests, McClatchy previously reported.