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Wichita's Library Board To Create Programming Policy Following Drag Queen Reading Event

advanced_learning_library_exterior.jpg
Nadya Faulx
/
KMUW/File photo
The board that runs the Wichita Public Library system plans to create a policy for programming after an event this fall that upset some residents.

The Wichita Public Library Board plans to create a programming policy, following backlash from a September drag queen reading event.

More than 200 people attended the “Say YAAAS to Reading” event at the Advanced Learning Library. The library quickly received about 100 emails from concerned residents.

The board discussed the issue to a standing-room-only crowd during its monthly meeting on Tuesday.

Close to 30 people addressed the board regarding the September event and potential policies. Some encouraged the board to continue providing similar programming, while others said the event was inappropriate for children.

Craig Coffey is an area pastor. He said the event promoted an agenda that he, and many others, don’t agree with.

“The fact is that preferential treatment was extended to the drag queens and the LGBTQ activists,” he said. “These activists knowingly and deliberately imposed their agenda onto the library staff and the public.

"The activists’ actions were calculated, planned and then enabled by library staff that evening.”

Jessi Wigdahl was at the event with her family. She said the drag queens hosting the event had only one agenda: promoting literacy.

“They demonstrated, very ably, that reading is an activity that can be shared, enjoyed and appreciated by all kinds of people,” she said.

She said the library should continue hosting diverse events.

“Events like ‘Say YAAAS to Reading’ change lives for the better,” she said. “Giving a small, vilified and clearly misunderstood group the chance, not only to have some visibility, but to visibly promote shared communal values brings hope and healing for those who are able to witness it.”

Board member Lamont Anderson agreed with Wigdahl. He said the library board should strive to be inclusive to every member of the community, regardless of personal preference.

The board plans to draft a policy and present it during its January meeting. It could be voted on as early as February.

Ray Strunk is an intern in the KMUW News Lab.