Leander renews ‘Drag Queen Story Time’ for children at public library after cancellation

Williamson County

LEANDER, Texas (KXAN) —  Drag Queen Story Time is back on at the Leander Public Library, this time being hosted by Open Cathedral church. 

According to Pastor Ryan Hart, he’ll be coordinating safety with Leander police. He says the church is interviewing drag queens to read to children, and they must pass a background check as do all people who work around children at the church. 

The city of Leander released a statement on the Drag Queen Story Time being reinstated:

Prior to the cancellation announcement yesterday, Leander Public Library was hosting the event in the main room of the library facility. Sometime today, Open Cathedral church finalized an agreement to rent one of the library’s conference rooms on June 15, which is available for anyone in the public to rent. We understand that it was to provide a forum for the Drag Queen Story Time, but that is a question best answered by them.

In short….. While the event will still be held at the Leander Public Library facility on the same day as previously scheduled, activities will be hosted and managed by Open Cathedral church, not Leander Public Library or the City of Leander.

They further clarified the change by saying they are undergoing a review of procedures or how all the programs provided through external entities can best be provided at city facilities. They say the cancellations on Thursday were precautionary. 

According to a previous statement posted on the city’s website, the initial cancellations happened because the city is now reviewing what’s offered to visitors at the library. 

“Periodically, either on its own or because of stakeholder questions, the City undertakes a review of its Library’s programs and staff procedures, including evaluation of upcoming children’s events, the summer reading program and activities, as well as events that come from outside sources,” the statement read. 

“The City is undertaking a review presently that will include a survey soliciting input from Leander citizens on their interests in future library activities,” it continued. “This survey to solicit citizen and library stakeholder input will be shared on this page in the next 24 hours.” 

However, this announcement came after several right-wing websites and other outspoken activists online began sharing a flyer about the drag queen story time, which led to some complaints coming into the library. Rumors of protests also circulated online. 

The city’s statement, though, does not mention this as a reason for the event’s cancellation. 

“The review includes all presently scheduled events and will include assistance from the Central Texas Library System, a consulting service that provides entertainment options to libraries across the Austin metropolitan area,” the statement read. 

Community reaction

Word about the initial cancellation spread Thursday on social media among parents, like Meredith Harris. She told KXAN that she couldn’t wait to bring her son to the event when she heard about it Wednesday. She now has a message to whomever ultimately made that decision. 

“I want everybody to feel like they’re welcome here, and I want my son to grow up knowing there are people that are different than people we run into every day at the grocery store or at the library day to day,” Harris said. “We don’t necessarily see that diversity every single day, so I want him to have that experience of seeing difference.” 

Libraries all across the country have held similar reading events with drag queens because organizers said they not only promote literacy among young people. 

“This event definitely promotes tolerance and, more than tolerance, acceptance and welcoming of people with differences,” Harris said. “It treats people who are not like us with love and respect, not with hatred and fear.”

A few people told KXAN off camera why they opposed holding something like this at the library in Leander. Some questioned if it was appropriate for children, while others expressed their own religious objections to it. 

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