Ohio library cancels drag class after threats

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COLUMBUS — An Ohio public library has canceled a Drag 101 class for teens after receiving “veiled threats.”

The Columbus Dispatch reported that the class was supposed to be at a Delaware County Public Library Branch on June 5. It was to be taught by Miss Gay Ohio America and local drag queen Selena T. West.

West told the newspaper the class was to show that drag was for everyone.

“It’s going to be open to everybody, and I want people to come be able to express themselves and learn about drag,” West said. “Drag is not scary; drag is not sexual. (Teens can) learn about what seem like trivial things like hair, nails, makeup, clothing. Those are the building blocks of a Drag 101 class I would teach.”

From the Dispatch:

Despite some residents who spoke against the class at a May 23 board of trustees meeting, it was scheduled to continue as planned as of May 28. But on the morning of Wednesday, May 29, library Director George Needham announced the class would be canceled.

According to library spokeswoman Nicole Fowles, the library had received “hundreds” of phone calls and emails about the event since its announcement.

She said a large portion of those calls had come from out of state, and said at one point the calls and emails were “interfering with our librarians’ ability to do their daily jobs.”

Some of those messages, she said, involved threats, which “concerned” library officials.

“A small number of (the phone calls and emails) were hostile,” she said. “A smaller number were veiled threats.”

Fowles said the library had planned to hold the event until May 28, when leaders held a meeting with Delaware County Sheriff Russell Martin.

“When we went into the meeting, he said he shared our concerns, and that was the final decision for us,” she said.

Despite the decision, Fowles said library leadership was not pleased by having to cancel the event.

“It really does break our hearts,” she said.

 A class will go on, the newspaper reported. But it will now be at at Secret Identity Comics, 34 N. Franklin St. in Delaware.

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