Indiana school board rejects changes over drag queen program

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (AP) — A southwestern Indiana school board has rejected calls for the removal of its three library board appointees following criticism of an upcoming library program in which men in drag will read to children.

The Evansville Vanderburgh School Corp. Board of Trustees heard 45 minutes of emotional public comments Monday before rebuffing demands for it to replace the three appointees.

A school board attorney, Jean Blanton, told the panel before the testimony that it had no legal basis to remove the appointees before their terms end, the Evansville Courier & Press reported.

Opponents of the Drag Queen Story Hour program are urging the cancellation of the Feb. 23 event at a library branch of the Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library, saying that doing so would protect children from a show of immorality.

Similar events, including in suburban Detroit, have also generated opposition .

Local pastor Wayne Harris told the board that young children "lack the maturity to independently process what is being presented" at an event featuring drag queens. He also said he objects to those who normalize "the LGBT lifestyle."

The program's opponents conducted a rally outside the school board meeting room before the meeting and then filled many of the room's seats.

A group supporting the program arrived later and stood in an aisle and outside the room. They spoke to the board about high rates of suicide and homelessness among LGBT youth, and said that events of this type provide a sense of acceptance.

Supporter Jennifer Willett urged the school board to "protect us from voices that would divide us because of fear and orthodoxy."

"This is 2019," she said. "The time for hatred and intolerance is over. Even here. We live in the United States. We have promises of freedom and opportunity we have yet to live up to."

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Information from: Evansville Courier & Press, http://www.courierpress.com