A Florida library has canceled an event aimed at providing a “safe space” for LGBTQ youth after local religious leaders opposed it, and library officials started getting threats, CNN reports.
The Jacksonville Public Library had scheduled the Storybook Pride Prom event for Friday (June 28). The event was intended to connect LGBTQ youth, ages 14-18, with each other and with resources in their community. Library Director Tim Rogers said that all 75 tickets to the event had been sold.
Unfortunately, some members of the Jacksonville community weren’t on-board with the event. As Jacksonville’s WJXT-TV reports, some area religious leaders vehemently opposed the event. One area ministry, Biblical Concepts Ministries, called on its supporters to call the Mayor’s office to ask that the event be cancelled.
“I would say it’s appropriate to fire the library director who approved such an event. We need to look into an ordinance that would bar programs inappropriate for children in our public facilities and taxpayer-funded facilities,” said Biblical Concepts Ministries founder Raymond Johnson.
Rogers did indeed cancel the event. He says that he and the library were getting unspecified threats of violence.
“The library is not confident that it will be 100% prepared to provide a safe, secure environment… for the teens,” the library wrote in a Facebook post.
In a Facebook post of their own, Biblical Concepts Ministries wrote that “The Perverted Drag Queen Prom for Children” has been canceled.
Now, Rogers is getting heat from both sides of the controversy. Area religious leaders, though pleased that he canceled the Pride Prom event, are still calling for his resignation for authorizing it in the first place. Meanwhile, members of Jacksonville’s LGBTQ community are accusing Rogers of caving to the demands of religious extremists.
Though the prom was canceled, area LGBTQ youth did have an event of their own on Friday, as a few dozen people gathered across the street for a sort of counter-protest. One attendee, Cadyn Horton, said that she was disappointed that she was denied the chance to be herself.
“It deeply affected me, not just because I wanted to go, but to think that people outside can just say ‘no’ to LGBT people that need a safe home and a place to go to express themselves,” she said.
Another attendee, Cynthia Baker, said that she wanted to “support” and “lift up” the teens who were denied their event.
Meanwhile, Rogers insists that he has no intention of resigning.