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Library Organization Pushes Back Against Criticism Of Drag Events

Drag performer Selena West with the staff of the Delaware County District Library.
Selena West
Drag performer Selena West with the staff of the Delaware County District Library.

The Ohio Library Council is responding to a letter House Speaker Larry Householder sent the organization in recent days, reminding them they receive state funds and demanding they stop libraries from offering classes featuring drag queens.

Two Central Ohio libraries have cancelled such events after backlash from their communities.

The Ohio Library Council’s Michelle Francis says the organization is encouraging libraries to continue to offer programming for all of the people they serve.

“Libraries are open to all. We do not discriminate. We do not discriminate. We are guided by federal law which requires that we be content neutral when it comes to speech in our public facilities," Francis says.

Householder’s letter prompted some Democrats to speak out, urging conservative leaders and opponents to celebrate diversity.

Delaware County District Library cancelled a planned program called “Drag 101.” The class was scheduled for Wednesday, and drag performer Selena West intended to teach teens about the art form.

At least one of the shows will go on. The presentation by drag performer Selena T. West will be held later this week at a comic book shop near the library in Delaware.

A teen LGBTQ program at the Licking County Library scheduled for Friday was cancelled after drawing a public backlash. The event was scheduled to be held after-hours and funded by the Newark Pride Coalition ahead of the Newark Pride Festival the following day. 

Jo Ingles is a professional journalist who covers politics and Ohio government for the Ohio Public Radio and Television for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. She reports on issues of importance to Ohioans including education, legislation, politics, and life and death issues such as capital punishment.