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A Drag Queen Story Hour event that sparked controversy and inspired supporting and opposing petitions is back on after a back-and-forth between the Greenville County Library System and organizers.

If you're having trouble keeping up with all of the developments and facts, here's what we know about the event and the surrounding controversy:

  • During the event, four local drag queens are expected to read stories to children at the Five Forks branch of the Greenville County Library.
  • "Drag Queen Story Hour" was organized by a local group called Liberal Moms Happy Hour of SC and announced via a Facebook event in late January.
  • In the days following the announcement, a petition was organized by Taylor Cox, of Simpsonville. Cox's petition said the event should not be held on taxpayer funded property
  • The "Drag Queen Story Hour" is not sponsored by the library and the group's use of the public meeting space is not an endorsement of any speech at the event, said James Wooten, spokesman for the Greenville County Library System. As a government agency, the library, in accordance with the First Amendment, can't regulate usage based on content, Wooten said.
  • In a statement, library officials said "all Library meeting spaces are available on an equitable basis, regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of the individuals or groups requesting their use."
  • Cox's petition against the event garnered more than 6,000 signatures.
  • A petition in support of the event had more than 2,700 signatures and the original Facebook invitation to the event had more than 1,600 people listed as either interested or going.
  • Despite the petitions, the Greenville County Library System said the event would not be canceled.
  • Greenville County Council Chairmen Butch Kirven weighed in on the controversy with a statement shared with The Greenville News. "Speaking for myself, I believe that if it were in County Council's power, the activity scheduled at the Five Forks Branch Library on Sunday afternoon, February 17th, would be shut down immediately," Kirven said.
  • Kirven later clarified his comments saying his criticism of the event was not over lifestyle choices, but that the event was an abuse of privilege by using the library to promote a narrow agenda. "I believe there is a line somewhere that separates all those rights granted by the First Amendment from exercising those rights to the extent that it creates mayhem and public disorder," Kirven said in a statement.
  • Library officials said the library told the original applicant on Feb. 7 that the eventbrite.com invitation made it appear the library was being used for a private event. Organizers did not immediately remove the eventbrite invitation.
  • On Monday, Feb. 11, a special meeting of the Library System's Board of Trustees was called to address the "meeting space use policy and regulations." During that meeting, the board amended the policy to say events could not restrict admittance to ticket-holders. 
  • On Tuesday, Feb. 12, library officials released a statement saying the event was canceled. The statement said the event violated library policies by restricting admittance to those who hold tickets and requiring those attending to show identification. 
  • That same day, organizers canceled the eventbrite invitation following the rule change and submitted a new application for the event. 
  • On Wednesday, Feb. 13, library officials confirmed that the event was back on after the new application was approved.
  • The Drag Queen Story Hour is scheduled for 3 to 5 p.m. at the Five Forks library on Sunday, Feb. 17. A counter-protest, organized by Taylor Cox is scheduled for the same time in the parking lot of the library.
  • The Greenville County Sheriff's Office announced a security plan ahead of the Sunday event. The plan, which includes restrictions on bags and parking, was implemented after threats were made on social media in response to the events, according to Lt. Ryan Flood with GCSO.

 

 

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