A public library in Newark, Ohio, has canceled a Pride event after receiving complaints, including one from the speaker of the Ohio House, who claimed it “would teach teenage boys how to become drag queens.”
Officials with the Licking County Library System said that was not an accurate description of the event, but they nevertheless decided to cancel it, the Newark Advocate (not related to this publication) reports.
The event, titled Galaxy of Diversity — A LGBTQ Teen Event, was to be held this coming Friday at the Emerson R. Miller Branch Library in Newark. It was set for 5:30 p.m., after regular library hours, and was to be funded by a grant from the Newark Ohio Pride Coalition. The program was to include a safer-sex workshop, arts and crafts, an optional makeup tutorial, and other activities aimed at aimed at “celebrating the individuality of our local LGBTQ+ and allied teens in preparation for the Newark Ohio Pride Festival on Saturday, June 8,” according to a Facebook post from the Pride Coalition.
But House Speaker Larry Householder, a Republican, wrote a letter to the Newark branch and the Ohio Library Council saying, “When I was first informed our public libraries were being used to teach teenage boys how to become drag queens, I thought it was a joke. But the joke is apparently on the taxpayers, who fund our libraries. This is a stunningly bizarre breach of the public trust. And it must stop.” He shared the letter on Twitter and Facebook.
I sent this letter to the Ohio Library Council today. Our public libraries are great resources for young & old alike. But they should not be a resource for teenage boys to learn how to dress in drag. I demand it stop now !!! pic.twitter.com/RpM8Wds1KB
— Speaker Larry Householder (@HouseholderOH) May 31, 2019
The Pride Coalition pointed out that the event was privately funded and that no tax dollars would be used to support it. Householder also mischaracterized the activities, the group said. Noting that the speaker had mentioned his support for civil liberties, the group wrote, “We would like to conclude our statement by publicly asking Speaker Larry Householder to respect the civil liberties of Newark, Ohio’s residents. We also ask that, in the future, Speaker Householder take the time to gather accurate facts, prior to issuing a factually inaccurate response to a program hosted by and for our community.”
The Pride Coalition will reschedule the event at another location, according to the Newark Advocate. The paper sought comment from Householder but could not reach him.