Florida library cancels its Pride Prom over safety concerns after protests against the event
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A Florida library’s Pride Prom was supposed to be a safe space for LGBT youth between ages 14 and 18 to connect with peers and learn about community resources.
But the sold-out Jacksonville Public Library’s Storybook Pride Prom — scheduled for Friday — was canceled after protests from religious groups and residents.
Religious group Biblical Concepts Ministries protested the event and called for residents to reach out to the city and mayor’s office to have it canceled, CNN affiliate WJXT reported.
“I am asking that the city looks into this, and I would say it’s appropriate to fire the library director who approved such an event,” Biblical Concepts Ministries founder Raymond Johnson told the affiliate. “We need to look into an ordinance that would bar programs inappropriate for children in our public facilities and taxpayer-funded facilities.”
After the library announced the Pride Prom was canceled, the group applauded.
“Jacksonville Public Library Cancels Perverted Drag Queen Prom for Children,” the group wrote on Facebook after the cancellation announcement. “Thanks to all for this team effort to export and stop city sponsored child abuse.”
Library says it had to make a tough call
The library said it was disappointed it couldn’t move forward with the event but had to make a “very tough call.”
“While the planning team did a remarkable job putting together a program that would have provided a great experience for our teen customers, the co-opting of the event by others who wish to use it for their own purposes has created a situation in which the library is not confident that it will be 100% prepared to provide a safe, secure environment for customers, staff, volunteers, protesters and active supporters, and most of all for the teens themselves,” the library said.
“Unfortunately, the discourse from some in the community did not remain civil and reportedly included threats of physical violence. We had to make a very tough call,” the library said. “Our cancellation of the Pride Prom does not mean that we agree with — or are bowing to pressure from — those who protested the event.”
Calls for library head to resign
On Friday, new crowds protested against the decision to cancel, including some of the teens who’d planned to attend. Others called for the resignation of Jacksonville Public Library Director Tim Rogers.
“I don’t plan to resign,” he told WJXT. “I don’t think there is a need for that, but I do think we broke a trust with the community we serve.”
More than 100 teenagers were planning to attend, according to the affiliate.