Two sides clash over Drag Queen Story Hour, group silences woman from speaking out

Local News

A controversial Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library event got even more attention Monday night.

A group supporting a city councilman who spoke out against the event held a rally in downtown Evansville.

City Councilman Justin Elpers spoke out against the event, writing about his concerns on Facebook.

A group supporting Elpers and his concerns showed their support outside the Civic Center Monday night.

Around 4:00 p.m. a group against the library’s Drag Queen Story Hour gathered outside the Civic Center, positioning themselves and their signs right in front of our cameras in hopes of getting their message out.

When Eyewitness News Brandon Bartlett tried talking to a member of that group who wanted to speak on camera, she was immediately silenced by other members of the group.

“I’m here to make a statement,” the woman said to us before another member of the group pulled her away from the camera, ordering her not to talk.  Another man in that same group yelled, “We don’t have no comment, so you need to step back.”

Although this group wanted publicity, oftentimes holding their signs right in front of our cameras, the woman wanting to speak was told the group’s leader didn’t want her to speak or to give her opinion. NOTE: Watch the video above to see the full encounter.)

That woman then put down her sign and walked away, leaving the group behind.

Those there in support of the Drag Queen Story Hour were more vocal about the issue.

“It’s been nationally recognized for a while now and I don’t know why people are making such a big deal about it now,” said Shane Betz, who supports the event.

“It teaches kids that just being different is okay,” said Wendy Miller, who also supports the event.

Wally Paynter, the president of Tri-State Alliance says the only reason this event is controversial is because of who will be reading the stories.

“My concern is it’s kind of like trying to ban a book,” said Paynter. “It’s okay if you don’t want a book but saying I don’t want other people to read that book as well, that’s really what the other side is doing.”

The group against the story hour also attended the city council meeting.

Many of them took to the podium, thanking Elpers for speaking out about an event they don’t think should happen here.

“Cross dressing is a mental disorder,” said one man who is against the library holding the event. “Now, the people at the library wants somebody to come in dressed as a woman. When are they going to stop? Now it’s drag queens. Are they going to bring in homosexuals? Are they going to bring in criminals to read stories to these kids?” 

“There’s more than just reading a story,” another woman against the event told council members. “This is a lifestyle that they’re trying to do and that’s not right. It’s not morally right.”

Even though the group spoke before the city council, the city has no involvement in the library’s decision to hold the event.

Councilman Elpers thanked the group for supporting him. 

The library board’s president told Eyewitness News on Friday that the Draq Queen Story Hour is still set to be held next month.

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(This story was originally published on January 14, 2019)

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