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Vanderburgh County government could take action over Drag Queen Story Hour

(Photo from Drag Queen Story Hour Facebook page)

EVANSVILLE — Local media has reported that the county government could take action over Drag Queen Story Hour at the Evansville-Vanderburgh County Public Library in February.

According to WEHT-TV, one official said she would consider pulling funding from the library if Story Hour goes on as scheduled.

From WEHT:

A large group against the planned Drag Queen Story Hour stood together before the Vanderburgh County Commission in hopes of getting the controversial event taken off the library’s calendar, but unlike their protests before the city council and then the EVSC school board, this time the elected officials joined in.

“I feel that the library is going in the wrong direction and has for a while, even without this very divisive issue and I resent that this very divisive issue has been visited upon our community,” said commissioner Cheryl Musgrave.

Musgrave said she has voiced her complaints to the library and has even asked for a meeting with the EVSC.  The school corporation appoints three people to serve on the library board while the county commission appoints two.

One of the county’s appointees quit because of the event, leaving commissioners with the job of choosing a new person to serve.

Musgrave said she wants more time to think about who she wants to appoint, then told the group she might even consider pulling the county’s funding to the library.

“I would like the opportunity to think about whether my motion would be to withdraw the agreement of joint funding to the library,” said Musgrave. “The library itself has work to do.”

But Musgrave didn’t stop there, saying the commission’s new appointee “maybe willing to make a motion to fire the current director whose decision it was to have this program and not the board, they never voted on this,” said Musgrave as the audience applauded.

One commissioner said it should be cancelled  because of security concerns.

The library in the past has said they brought in the Story Hour because of requests from the public. So far, it has stood firm on allowing the event to take place on Feb. 23. People opposed to the event have also showed up at city council meetings even thought the city has no control over it. Crowds have come to school board meetings over it as well. The Evansville-Vanderburgh County Human Rights Commission did release a statement on Tuesday in support of the event.

Story Hour became a political issue after city councilman Justin Elpers, a Republican, stated his opposition in a Facebook post.

The Evansville Courier & Press reported that the event is still scheduled for the North Park branch. It’s the first year for Story Hour at the library.

Evansville is Indiana’s third largest city, but it’s tucked away into the extreme southwestern corner of the state, right where Indiana, Kentucky and Illinois all meet. There is a small but active drag community, an annual Pride celebration and active LGBTQ organizations. The city’s LGBTQ businesses and events attract community members from the surrounding counties as well as southeastern Illinois and northwestern Kentucky.

Local LGBTQ groups such as the Tri-State Alliance and local residents have also been active in their support. Supporters have come out to counterprotest and speak out whenever opponents have come for the event. They’ve also started a competing petition for Story Hour. There’s currently 4,585 signatures on the pro-petition.

As of Jan. 30, Drag Queen Story Hour is still on. There is one more library board meeting before the event on Feb. 14. According to the Courier & Press, the library board has not had a vote on Drag Queen Story Hour.

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