Petitions surface over Drag Queen Story Hour

Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library still plans to host event despite debate

Petitions surface over Drag Queen Story Hour

VANDERBURGH CO., IN (WFIE) - Petitions against and in-support of drag queens reading to children are now circling on social media.

Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library plans to host local drag queen volunteers to read stories to children in 2019.

It’s an event that’s provoked a lot of discussion across the country, including in Indianapolis.

EVPL Equity and Well-being Officer Don Crankshaw says the library has been planning Drag Queen Story Hour for months.

“We’ve had a lot of reaction from people who just don’t understand what it is," Crankshaw said.

The event has its critics.

Evansville City Councilman Justin Elpers (R-Ward 5) says he has taken concerned calls from church groups and families.

Elpers recently shared a petition created by a county resident on his official Facebook page. The petition page looks to garner 5,000 signatures from Vanderburgh County taxpayers only, asking the library to drop the event from its calendar.

“I never said anything in my post or even in the petition that we dislike people that are drag queens or kings, we simply disagree with the Library Board’s decision," Councilman Elpers said.

Elpers says he is an LGBTQ supporter, but one of the drag queens set to read in the first event says it shouldn’t be concerning to parents.

“Drag Story Time means a lot to me. Interacting with kids means a lot to me, and just telling kids that it’s okay to be you," said Floritine Dawn, a transgender drag queen who lives in Evansville.

Elpers stressed he is an LGBTQ supporter, but doesn’t agree with the event’s targeted age group.

“If the Library Board’s mission is to do things that want to show diversity or tolerance, I think there is more age appropriate things that they can do instead of what they want to do on this Drag Queen Story Hour," said Elpers.

“It’s not a bad thing that a local politician has involved himself in discussing this kind of thing, because it’s all about civic engagement," Crankshaw responded. "If we can get people talking, then that’s one of the main things we do.”

Another petition started to voice support in the EVPL story hour has reached thousands more signatures than the oppositing petition page. Unlike it, this petition did not ask signers to be taxpayers specifically from Vanderburgh County.

Still, it is garnering attention.

The American Library Association has endorsed libraries across the country holding these story hours.

The library chooses which stories are read, according to Crankshaw. The library staff trains the drag queen volunteers.

The first Evansville Drag Queen Story Hour is scheduled for the North Park Branch on February 23 at 10 a.m.

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