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Drag Queen Story Hour fight moves to E’ville school board

(Photo from Drag Queen Story Hour Facebook page)

EVANSVILLE — The battle over Drag Queen Story Hour at the Evansville-Vanderburgh Public Library (EVPL) moved onto the school board this week.

The countywide school board appoints library board trustees along with the county council and commissioners.

Local media reported that opponents to the story hour called on the Evansville-Vanderburgh School Corporation (EVSC) board to replace their three appointees to the library board. According to the Evansville Courier & Press, opponents called DQSH a “show of immorality.” However, the school board stated they couldn’t replace their appointees.

From the Courier & Press:

The school board heard about 45 minutes of emotional public comments about the issue. But before the speaking began, Jean Blanton, an attorney for the school board, said the school board has “no basis” legally to remove its library board appointees before their terms expire.

Blanton said Indiana statue spells out “very specific grounds for removal of an office holder, an appointee, and we don’t believe any of those have been met in this situation.”

Blanton received some backup from Charles Berger, an Evansville attorney who spoke during the public comment period. Berger said the school board should follow its legal advice.

“In this community, government should in no way participate in the restriction of speech in your actions and your policies,” Berger said, drawing applause from Drag Queen Story Hour supporters.

People both pro and con spoke to the school board.

From WEVV-TV:

While folks may have differing opinions on the drag story hour, both sides say they want what’s best for the children in the community.

“One of the first times I saw my child light up with joy genuinely find their place was at an LGBTQ youth event hosted by Tri-State Alliance, and the thing that made them light up was being able to see Drag Kings perform for the children in completely youth appropriate numbers,” says Jasmine Withrow.

On the contrary, Glenn Kissell says, “our library has failed us and now our library board of trustees have failed us as well. So we the public have no choice but to say to you to call a public hearing as a first step to remove and replace your library board appointees.”

The library is still planning on holding the story hour on Feb. 23. The board has been supportive and the library scheduled the event due to requests from the public.

Protests and counterprotests have taken place at city council, commissioner and county council meetings. The county council has already replaced one board member whose term was up and threatened to cut funding. That same library board member said she was bullied by council members over the story hour.

The county commissioners are meeting today and the Tri-State Alliance believes another library board trustee could be replaced.

And the city councilman who started the fight when he objected to DQSH on his Facebook page, Justin Elpers, has resigned from his position as a teacher with EVSC. The Courier & Press was unable to get a reason why or his future plans.

UPDATE, 2/12/2019

WNIN reported Tuesday afternoon that Elpers is leaving the EVSC to work in sales for a local oil company.

The library board meeting, originally schedule for Thursday, Feb. 14, has been rescheduled for Feb. 21.

According to the Tri-State Alliance, former Vanderburgh County Sheriff Eric Williams has been appointed to the Evansville-Vanderburgh Public Library board.

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