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Rocky River Public Library Drag Queen Story Hour program sparks mixed opinions from community

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Posted at 6:35 AM, Apr 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-22 06:38:55-04

ROCKY RIVER, Ohio — The Rocky River Public Library prides itself on being a place for everyone.

“Our mission statement itself to cultivate meaningful connections by providing information, inspiration and a welcoming place for contemplation and community,” said Jamie Mason, the library director.

Mason said back in 2019, library staff surveyed its patrons, asking what they would like to see more of from their library, he said a common answer was more diverse and inclusive programs.

“Not every single program is for every single person, but we want every single person to have a program,” he said.

Charlotte Blasier, the Children Services Manager with the library, coordinated with the LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland to find inclusive programs.

“Any time a an organization is interested in collaborating with us and partnering with us to help make the air space more affirming for LGBTQ plus people, we're down for that. We’re interested in being a part of that,” said Brian Lutz with the LGBT center.

A librarian suggested Drag Queen Story Hour.

“It's a program that kind of focuses on the theatrical aspects of storytelling. So finding someone who has exactly exaggerated features or has theatrical stylings in their reading just has ways to draw in kids and adults into stories and make those stories more exciting, more engaging and more interesting,” said Blaiser.

In June, Cleveland-based performer Sassy Sascha will virtually read and sing to kids of all ages who sign up for the event. The theme of the storytelling: acceptance.

“It really is trying to show people that it's OK to be different and it's OK to accept yourself as you are. And it's OK if you want to dress a little different,” said Mason.

But not everyone is on board. One person on social media saying, “There is no place for that near children,” another commenting “My first reaction is Why?” someone else calling it “plain wickedness.”

Community member and library frequenter, Carol Ann, said it is a good concept, but believed it should be for older kids.

“It would need to be more age appropriate for children that would understand it. It could be very confusing,” said Ann.

Others, like resident Aaron Milenski, fully support it.

“My first thought is that anything that opens kids up to new experiences and understand what’s going on is good,” said Milenski.

Mason said the library is a place for everyone, so they should have programs for everyone.

“Really, for the people that are completely against a program like this, maybe it's not for them, but it is for other people,” he said.

The program will be on June 17 and people can register on May 22.

It is one of many LGBT programs the library is hosting in June for pride month.

You can register here.