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  • Writer's pictureJessica Jaymes Purdy

An Open Letter in Support of the Drag Queen Story Hour at the Lancaster Public Library

Exterior of the Lanacaster Public Library. A multi-story building with the library on the ground floor.
Lancaster Public Library (Image from library website.)

As an out and proud member of the LGBTQ+ community and a transgender woman, I feel compelled to address the recent controversy surrounding the upcoming Drag Queen Story Hour at the Lancaster Public Library. To be clear this controversy is part of a larger attack on LGBTQ+ people and is stems from religiously-based and politicized fear and hate aimed at all things queer. It's disheartening to see local public officials and some members of the community express such misguided fear and hostility towards an event that celebrates diversity, inclusiveness, kindness, and a love for reading.

First and foremost, I need you to understand that drag is not inherently sexual. Just like any form of entertainment, drag offers different types of content aimed at different audiences. Drag queen story hours for children are not the same as adult-oriented drag shows. These story hours feature performers dressed in fun, whimsical costumes who sing age-appropriate songs and read age-appropriate books to children and families.

It's also important for you to realize that despite rhetoric designed to stoke anger and fear, queer and transgender people are not dangerous. The LGBTQ+ community deserves to have events and entertainment that represent and celebrate our identities and experiences. Equating our community to pedophiles or suggesting that we are "grooming" children is a baseless and harmful false equivalency rooted in fearmongering and discrimination.

I will also remind you that the mission of public libraries is to serve the entire community, including the LGBTQ+ community. The librarians at the Lancaster Public Library are professionals who understand what is appropriate for different age groups. They would not allow a drag queen story hour if they believed it was inappropriate for children.

Moreover, religious beliefs, which are at the root of all efforts to legislate LGBTQ+ events, media, and identities out of existence, are not a valid justification for denying others the right to engage in activities that some may not appreciate. In a diverse and inclusive society, we must respect the rights of all individuals to participate in events that celebrate their identities and experiences.

The Drag Queen Story Hour featuring Miss Amie Vanité is an opportunity to spread awareness and acceptance by celebrating diversity, inclusiveness, kindness, and love through LGBTQ+ literature for young readers. Miss Amie, a professional drag entertainer with over 20 years of experience, started Pennsylvania's first chapter of Drag Story Hour in 2018 and has been presenting age-appropriate programs ever since.

It's time for our friends, family, and allies to come together and support this event, the library, and the LGBTQ+ community. You can do this by attending the story hour, joining the Wall of Love, contacting county commissioners and library trustees to express your support, writing letters to the editor, and showing your appreciation for the library staff who work hard to serve our entire community.

I ask you to be part of quenching the angry hateful fires that are being stoked by close minded local officials, community leaders, and neighbors.  Help us ensure that Lancaster remains a community where all individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, feel welcomed, respected, and celebrated. This Drag Queen Story Hour is just a small part of that diverse and inclusive vision of Lancaster, but it is an important one nonetheless. I urge everyone to stand in support of our local LGBTQ+ community.

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