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Tense debate at library board over Drag Queen Story Hour

September 18, 2018

LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) — A Louisiana library’s plans to host a “Drag Queen Story Hour” have led to sometimes tense debates at local government meetings.

The Lafayette Public Library’s Board of Control heard from opponents and supporters of the planned Oct. 6 program.

The Advocate reported that Monday’s comment period started on a raucous note, with the first speaker, Robert Judge, initially refusing to stop speaking after the three-minute limit. Judge, in claiming that transgenderism is unhealthy, cited elevated suicide rates among transgender youth, eliciting an angry reply from audience member Nicholas Charming.

“Because people like you tell us we don’t exist,” yelled Charming, who later explained that transgenderism is not the same as cross dressing.

Drag Queen Story Hour programs — men in drag reading stories to children — have been held at libraries and book stores around the country, drawing protests in some areas.

The Lafayette City-Parish Council was set Tuesday evening to consider a resolution denouncing the event as inappropriate for its target audience of young children. A religious conservative group, the Louisiana Family Forum, issued a news release urging members to arrive early to get a seat in the meeting room.

The Oct. 6 event is to be presented by members of a University of Louisiana-Lafayette chapter of Delta Lambda Phi, a fraternity of “gay, bisexual and progressive men.”

Public comments at the council meeting last month were overwhelmingly supportive. Opposition was more apparent at Monday’s library board meeting. Those opposing the event appeared to outnumber those in support.

A supporter, Layne St. Julien, said she watched several online videos of drag queen story hours in other cities, according to The Advertiser of Lafayette.

“It’s very clear they are not about pornography. They are not about an attempt to change anyone to drag queens. They are not about sexuality. They are not about social engineering,” St. Julien said. “It’s essentially a costumed story read to children.”

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