AUSTIN (KXAN) — Reeling under the backlash from groups opposed to “Drag Queen Story Time,” the city of Leander voted to stop renting out rooms at the library to public groups, effectively ending the controversial program.
Just before midnight, the City Council voted 5-2 on the measure, with Council members Christine Sederquist and Kathryn Pantalion-Parker opposed.
Leander Mayor Troy Hill focused on the monetary aspects of “Drag Queen Story Time,” which cost the city tens of thousands of dollars in security after groups of protesters started coming to the event.
“We brought in $1,800 in rental fees and we spent $20,000 in security. That’s not good math to me,” Hill said.
“We already have things in place to protect our citizens and ensure costs,” Sederquist said in response. “There’s no reason to take away something from them,” she said of the motion to end rentals of library property. Sederquist said while she disagreed with the vote, she respected her fellow council members decisions.
Council member Jason Shaw acknowledged the difficulty of the decision at hand but steadfastly asserted that ending the rentals was what needed to be done.
“I hate that we’re having to do this, to take it away. But people are going to attack. If we don’t just make it even across the board, people are going to attack and they’re going to probe,” he said. “It’s going to cost the city and eventually somebody’s going to get hurt. Things are going to escalate and somebody’s going to get hurt.”
The other opposing council member, Kathryn Pantalion-Parker likened the situation to children who could not “play nice” in the sandbox.
This move will impact all outside groups that use the rooms, including churches and political groups who have used the space for meetings and events.
Sederquist said the action will “reverberate throughout our city,” and said there is not currently a suitable place for youth groups, civic organizations or HOAs to meet. She told KXAN she worried the decision would push people into neighboring communities.
“Leander is an amazing community of caring, supportive neighbors,” Sederquist said. “We will continue to grow, to thrive, and to support each other, community room or no community room.”