Florida library cancels Pride prom after onslaught of threats and harassment

Florida library cancels Pride prom after onslaught of threats and harassment

Libraries are becoming battlegrounds for LGBTI people | Photo: Unsplash/Susan Yi

Another public library in the United States has been forced to cancel an LGBTI event following harassing and threatening phone calls and emails.

Willowbranch Library in Jacksonville, Florida, canceled its Storybook Pride Prom on Monday (24 June). Organizers scheduled the event for Friday (28 June) night.

More than 100 teenagers signed up to attend the event. They planned on dressing up as their favorite literary characters or in drag for a night of music, dancing, and socializing.

Local drag queen Beatrice Palmer also had plans to make an appearance.

After receiving hundreds of phone calls and emails, both in support and protesting the event, the library made the decision to cancel the prom night.

Chris Boivin, the library’s assistant director of community relations and marketing, said the decision came to down to concern over a lack of ‘safety and security for everybody involved’.

‘Open to all,’ says library

The Jacksonville Public Library Facebook page made a post announcing the cancellation.

‘The co-opting of the event by others who wish to use it for their own purposes has created a situation in which the library is not confident that it will be 100% prepared to provide a safe, secure environment for customers, staff, volunteers, contractors, protestors and active supporters, and most of all for the teens themselves,’ the post explained.

After careful and extensive deliberation, the library has decided to cancel the Storybook Pride Prom scheduled for…

Posted by Jacksonville Public Library on Monday, June 24, 2019

The post continued, thanking people for appreciating ‘the library’s intention to engage with teens in a new way, in a demonstration of the library as a place for learning and fun—a place where friends come together for conversation and something as simple as a dance without the labels and judgement that are too often a part of everyday life’.

It also described the association with politics and activism as ‘unfortunate’.

The post concluded: ‘Jacksonville Public Library remains open to all and will continue to create programs and provide materials on all topics to enable everyone to grow and learn—children, teens and adults.’

A common occurrence

Some were glad to see the event canceled after they actively campaigned against it.

Both Raymond Johnson, founder of Biblical Concepts Ministries in Jacksonville, and Elizabeth Johnston, a blogger known as ‘The Activist Mommy’, encouraged their followers to call the library and complain.

Johnston told her followers in a Facebook post to ‘express your disgust that this perversion is taking place in a taxpayer funded library’.

Several libraries have canceled LGBTI events recently due to harassment and threats, from Ohio to Texas.

Palmer is working on rescheduling the event elsewhere.

‘My goal is to make sure that the gay and trans kids have somebody looking out for them and somebody telling them that they’re not inappropriate for existing, and making sure that the straight kids that go know how to make the world better for them as well,’ she told Jacksonville.com.

GSN reached out to the Jacksonville Public Library system and Equality Florida for comment.

See also

Drag queen behind Spokane story hour defends the event following protest

Lady Gaga sign removed from outside Arkansas college library

Parents of LGB kids still take years to adjust to their coming out

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