When a public library in Denton, Texas, canceled a book reading for children that was to be held on the Trans Day of Remembrance after it received threats of violence, a trans boy's mother took action and organized another book reading -- this one featuring trans characters.
Amber Briggle decided to take things into her own hands after the book reading's cancelation. Her church, Denton Unitarian Universalist, and a local brewery, Armadillo Ale Works, stepped in to help.
Hundreds showed up to be part of the new storytime held at the brewery, according to The Denton Record-Chronicle. The three books read included only one from the original event, which was Red: A Crayon's Story, a book about a "red" crayon who can only draw in blue. Saturday's event added two others that directly discuss trans lives: Julian Is a Mermaid and Calvin.
"I want trans kids to know they're perfect as they are and that they're worth fighting for," Briggle said. "We have to celebrate these children. Reading a book with a transgender theme does not make kids transgender, but it does make transgender kids feel empowered."
Denton City Council member Brian Beck read Red at the event. He said while he supported the library's decision to cancel the original event for safety, the storytime still needed to happen in order to beat the "disinformation campaign" around it that sought to "bully and exclude people."
"Yelling, screaming, threatening violence, and canceling an event is not the Denton way," Beck told the paper.
David Morris, who brought his two children to the event, said he had also planned to go to the canceled one.
"It was a bunch to do about nothing," Morris explained. "It was just showing families that are built different. There's no reason to be against people living their lives."
The original book event had part of the library's Rainbow Storytime series, which is held throughout the year, according to the city's local Fox affiliate. The books the librarians read focus on self-acceptance and friendship. The events also fall on days that focus on marginalized groups.
Trans Day of Remembrance was held on Saturday, the same Saturday the reading time was to take place.
The library told the TV station that Texas Republican gubernatorial candidate Don Huffines brought up the event on his campaign website, setting off a backlash.
"Texas libraries are supposed to be places where Texans can read and learn, not spaces where public employees take the innocence of kids and replace it with Leftist sexual indoctrination. I am calling on the City of Denton to cancel 'transgender storytime' and fire the library employees who approved the event," Huffiines's campaign said on its website.
A statement from the library said that false information that the books would focus on trans children had circulated online. Books that were to be featured included Red: A Crayon's Story by Michael Hall, I'm a Girl by Yasmeen Ismail, and What Riley Wore by Elana K. Arnold.
The library said in a statement, "Denton Public Library hosts over 300 Library programs per season and, since we exist to serve all community members, we try to include programming that speaks to families who may feel different. It's important to our community that every adult and child feels accepted in Denton."