- The city of Leander, Texas, canceled a drag queen story-time reading set to be hosted at the city’s public library during Pride Month.
- Instead, a local church is renting space at the library to host the children’s event as planned on Saturday, June 15.
- City officials are preparing for demonstrators in favor of and against the reading, a representative for Leander told INSIDER.
- Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more stories.
The city of Leander, Texas, canceled a drag queen story-time reading set to be hosted at the city’s public library during Pride Month, but a local church has taken the initiative to save the children’s event.
According to HuffPost, a church in the same city called Open Cathedral Church rented a space in the library so that the reading could go on as planned Saturday, June 15. Since then, the church has changed the event name from “Drag Queen Story Time” to “Leander Family Pride Festival,” according to KVUE ABC. Tickets for the 45-minute afternoon event have already sold out online.
“We must never stop striving for safe spaces for our kids to be unique and loved no matter what,” a representative wrote on the church’s Facebook page.
Read more: A hotel-booking site is giving away a free stay in New York City for Pride Month. Here’s how you can win.
Open Cathedral Church, which says it “cherish[es] our differences and celebrate[s] our unity” on its website, has received considerable media attention and significant backlash since choosing to salvage the event.
“The core of the whole event is to show kids that it’s wonderful to be different, we express our differences in a lot of different ways,” Open Cathedral Church lead minister Ryan Hart told CBS Austin. “That will fit in right with the theme of people having different opinions.”
According to CBS Austin, demonstrators in favor of and against the drag queen-centered event are expected to flock to Leander Public Library in advance of the event. As a precautionary measure, representatives for the city of Leander say it has decided to close access to the library for all but the 150 individuals attending the free reading.
“For public safety, the library’s main building will be closed on Saturday,” Michael Neu, a spokesperson for Leander, told INSIDER. “However, the reserved library conference room will remain accessible to event organizers and ticketed guests. The city will designate areas in the library parking lot to allow for peaceful assembly of demonstrators, and city police and other officials will be onsite to manage resources as needed.”
- Laura Gunn/Shutterstock
Leander city officials initially chose to cancel the event in part because there was a report of a registered sex offender attending a similar event in Houston, according to the Austin American-Statesman.
The Leander city website suggests that, while the library does not conduct background checks of guests and presenters, the drag queen story time included “live entertainment with outside guests that were not included in the Central Texas Library System’s slate of recommended entertainers.” However, Open Cathedral Church is conducting background checks for the event, according to HuffPost.
Leander Public Library director Priscilla Donovan told the Austin American-Statesman that the momentum is “starting to tip more toward people who are disappointed we canceled it.”
Still, Leander Mayor Troy Hill seemed to back the city’s decision in a statement provided to KVUE ABC.
“I would be curious if those favoring ‘inclusiveness’ would feel the same had it been storytelling time about the life of Donald Trump, or how those who want it canceled would feel about canceling a story of guns in America,” Hill said. “We have lost our ability to discuss with respect for opposing views.”
Open Cathedral Church did not immediately respond to INSIDER’s request for comment.