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Drag Queen Story Hour back on in South Carolina after library canceled, organizers say

A Drag Queen Story Hour similar to an event held in Charlotte, was scheduled for a South Carolina library but was canceled.
A Drag Queen Story Hour similar to an event held in Charlotte, was scheduled for a South Carolina library but was canceled. dlaird@charlotteobserver.com

UPDATE: Event organizer Rylee Hunty said the story hour was back on as of Wednesday after the library approved a new event application, according to a post on the Facebook event page.

The original story is below.

The Drag Queen Story Hour scheduled at a South Carolina library on Sunday was canceled by the library.

The event planned for the Five Forks branch of the Greenville County Library System was canceled because the group hosting it violated library system policy, according to a statement from the Community Engagement Department.

The group, Mom’s Liberal Happy Hour SC, committed two violations by listing the event on eventbrite.com, the library said in the statement.

First, “it restricts admittance to those who hold tickets,” and second, “ it requires those attending an event in a Library System meeting room to show identification,” library officials said in the statement.

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The library said the eventbrite.com invitation makes it look like the event is a private event and restricts who can attend, according to the statement.

“It’s a violation if it restricts admittance in any way,” Community Engagement Manager James Wooten said in an interview with The State.

Wooten said Mom’s Liberal Happy Hour SC was not charging for the tickets, but even free tickets are a policy violation.

He added the group is welcome to reapply to use the library space for the event, but had not heard if it will do so.

“Anyone is able to use our meeting space — any individual or group,” Wooten said.

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An organizer with Mom’s Liberal Happy Hour SC said she is working to reserve the library space in a new attempt to hold the event, WHNS reported.

Organizers said on their Facebook event page that Drag Queen Story Hour was designed to expose children “to all the different kinds of beautiful people in the world,” in an effort to allow them to “become more kind, confident, and tolerant individuals.”

There are a lot of supportive comments on the Facebook event page, but not everyone was so enthusiastic.

A petition was launched to cancel the event, and it had more than 6,000 supporters, according to the Greenville News.

Drag Queen Story Hour has support from the American Library Association, which said the events create “a more equitable, diverse, and inclusive society.”

According to a drag queen involved with the event that was supposed to occur at the library, it is not what one might see at a nightclub.

“I think people think we are going to be bringing our Saturday night life into the library and we are gonna put on like a fabulous drag show, but that’s definitely a misconception,” Rylee said in a WSPA report. “No one is there to push an agenda on anyone no one is there to persuade people or to recruit people.”

Similar events are held at libraries throughout the country. In Houston, a drag queen story hour attracted close to 100 families to the library as well as a large group of protestors outside, according to the Houston Chronicle. A similar protest took place in a Detroit suburb, and two dozen people speaking out against the event were outnumbered by “about 200 counter-protestors,” the Detroit Free Press reported.

Families packed the patio of Plaza Midwood's Common Market Saturday morning to hear drag queen Brandon James read stories to children. James initially requested to host the event at Charlotte Mecklenburg Library in July, but the request was denied

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Noah Feit is a Real Time reporter with The State and McClatchy Carolinas Regional Team. The award-winning journalist has worked for multiple newspapers since starting his career in 1999.
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