LIBRARY CANCELS DRAG 101 DUE TO SAFETY CONCERNS
Delaware, OH: -- The following statement was given this morning at a press conference by Delaware County District Library Director George Needham:
The Delaware County District Library planned a program for teens titled “Drag 101.” The program has been canceled. The program had been scheduled for June 5th at 2:00 pm here at the Orange Branch Library. This program featured local drag performer Selena T. West to demonstrate the art of creating a character, costuming, and applying makeup.
As the local community became aware of this program, they asked several questions and shared their concerns. We appreciated this input and made some changes based on what we heard.
However, as attention to the program grew, so did the influx of phone calls and emails. Hundreds of people expressed their support or concern.
Our hearts overflowed with the stories people told us. Stories that said they wished a program like this had been offered when they were a teen living in Delaware County. Stories from parents and grandparents who said they were proud to live in a community with a library that supported them and their children. Stories from teens who would attend the program and are excited for the library’s offerings of inclusive and diverse programming.
However, there were also some hostile and angry messages. A small number of those messages appeared to threaten the safety of our staff, our patrons, Selena and the teens and caregivers for whom we strive to provide a safe space.
Our number one priority as a library is to ensure that everyone who walks in our doors feels safe. Our mission statement ensures that we will provide “lifelong learning in a friendly environment.” Threats of protests, hate and violence stand in direct conflict with that mission and we cannot sacrifice the safety of the public we serve.
Over the last two weeks, we’ve held meetings with the Delaware City Police Department, the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office, staff members, and Selena T. West. The Sheriff’s Office, which has jurisdiction for the Orange Branch Library, shares in our concern for the safety of the public and the teens in attendance at this event.
For these reasons, the Drag 101 program will not be held at the Delaware County District Library. No alternate teen program will replace this event on June 5th at the Orange Branch Library. The rest of the 400-plus programs planned during our summer reading club will go on as scheduled.
Let me be clear that this is in no way a victory for anyone.
But the library will continue to serve as a safe space for the entire community - not just the majority or a minority. Please continue using the library to engage your curiosity, expand your opportunities, and improve your quality of life.
The Delaware County District Library (DCDL) and its branches are vibrant centers of activity for residents and visitors in Delaware County. DCDL provides an inviting environment that encourages reading, learning, community discussion, and supports lifelong discovery. We are proud to be recognized for engaging minds, expanding opportunities, and improving the quality of life for Delaware County residents.
Mission Statement: The Delaware County District Library serves as the public information provider for our community, using traditional and innovative technology to encourage curiosity, free inquiry, and lifelong learning in a friendly environment.