LAFAYETTE – “The library is for everyone. Not just people who don’t like drag queens,” said one of nearly forty people who signed up to speak during the public comment section at tonight’s City-Parish Council meeting.
While a few spoke on other issues facing the city-parish, the majority of people in attendance were in support of the publicly held drag queen story time event.
“The drag queen story hour is not about sexuality,” says Rhonda Gleason, “It’s not about how people have sex. It’s about identity. It’s about inclusion, and it’s about community. And I do not believe that we are so myopic in Lafayette that we can’t understand that.”
“I think we need to teach our younger generation about acceptance, tolerance and inclusiveness,” says Roxie Black, who herself is a drag performer.
Many who spoke, talked about how the mayor’s statement may lead to more bullying directed at a group of people that faces ridicule every day.
Says an impassioned William Thiele, “Think of the bullies in the class room who are going to see the mayor’s words and the words of others online and be embolden to further bully and harass students who are different from them.”
Most people spoke on the positives that may come from holding such an event.
Adds Conner Quebedeaux, “If children can learn that it is okay, or even that it is amazing to unapologetically be themselves, then I think that is something worth fighting for.”
While the mayor’s Facebook statement was filled with people from all sides arguing on the issue, it’s clear which side was more willing to voice their opinions in person.
Says Alicia Champagne, “Take head on who’s actually showing up and who will be showing up to the polls when it’s time to vote again.”
The previous statement was followed by a loud and passionate round of applause.
The Louisiana Leadership of Trans Advocates released a statement today saying:
Libraries have a long-standing history of fostering learning. Learning broadens our horizons, shapes our understanding of the world, and allows us to evolve. You wouldn’t move through the world as you do without being taught how to navigate through it.
Drag Story Time coming to the Lafayette Public Library is an opportunity to learn above nothing else. In the spirit of learning, this is an excellent time to get a brief overview of what exactly drag is: a performance. Just like you might hire someone to be Elsa for a day, a drag performer will often wear beautiful and elaborate costumes and adopt the persona of a character. When the performer goes home, the costume comes off and they go on living their lives normally. A performer is not necessarily a transgender person, the majority of time they are cisgender men. Even if they are, how they present in drag at a show is just for that: the show.
This is what it looks like to prevent bullying and exclusion: show your school age children that queer and trans people are not subhuman, they aren’t exoctic, and they aren’t wrong for existing as they are. This is what it looks like to lower the suicide rate of queer kids: showing them that it’s okay to be who they are. LGB youth who come from highly rejecting families are 8.4 times as likely to have attempted suicide as LGB peers who reported no or low levels of family rejection. LGBTQIA+ kids who come from highly rejecting families are 8.4 times as likely to have attempted suicide than those who reported no or low levels of family rejection.
Delta Lambda Phi is giving parents of Lafayette the opportunity to foster conversations on what it means to be different and how to accept folks that are different from us. It is shameful that Lafayette citizens and city officials would condemn an opportunity to bridge the gaps in their own community. Louisiana officials are far behind the times: maybe they should read a book or two.