Representatives from the Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library fielded questions from county councilmembers Wednesday about a Drag Queen Story Hour planned for next month. A handful of councilmen were concerned about the event’s appropriateness for children.
The questions came largely from councilman Tom Shetler, who called it one of the most controversial issues of his thirty years in local politics.
Shetler wanted to know about drug testing and background checks for library volunteers and the dress code for the drag queens and kings.
Library director Cynthia Landrum told council the library doesn’t perform background checks on its volunteers because few work with children. She said volunteers will be trained to read books chosen by library staff.
She also said library volunteers are expected to follow the employee dress code. She added that the volunteers are aware they’ll be in a library and won’t wear nightclub attire.
Councilmembers also raised concerns about costs to the library. Landrum said employees won’t be working overtime for the event, and that it’s part of their job to train volunteers.
Local concerns over drag queens and kings reading to children first arose after the Courier and Press published a story in December. Since then, petitions have circulated supporting and opposing the event. They’ve even been shared by local officials on social media. These include Tom Shetler’s son-in-law, city councilman Justin Elpers, who opposes the story hour.
Landrum said she’s heard from people who want to hold similar storytelling events, including one about the Bible. She said this so-called affinity programming are an industry standard.
Drag Queen Story Hour is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 23 at North Park Library.