LGBT-inclusive prom cancelled over ‘safety concerns’ after protest threats
A library in Florida has scrapped plans to hold an LGBT-inclusive prom for local teens after a targeted campaign from anti-gay activists.
Jacksonville Public Library had planned to hold an inclusive prom event on Friday (June 28), inviting LGBT+ teens to “come dressed inspired by your favourite book character– casual, formal, or in drag – whatever makes you feel great.”
The prom, which follows a trend of queer prom events, proved so popular that tickets had completely sold out within just days.
LGBT-inclusive prom dropped after being branded a ‘perversion’
However, the library announced on Monday (June 24) that the event has been cancelled, citing “security concerns” after anti-gay activists organised a coordinated complaints campaign.
Evangelical activist Elizabeth Johnston, known as the ‘Activist Mommy,’ had encouraged her 635,000 Facebook supporters to call the library and “express your disgust that this perversion is taking place in a taxpayer funded library.”
Johnston, who has appeared alongside Mike Pence at anti-LGBT summits and campaigned with his wife Karen Pence, claims she targeted the event because she believes “kids shouldn’t be learning how to sodomise one another.”
In a statement, the library said: “After careful and extensive deliberation, the library has decided to cancel the Storybook Pride Prom.
“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 percent prepared to provide a safe, secure environment for customers, staff, volunteers, contractors, protestors and active supporters, and most of all for the teens themselves.”
The statement continued: “We sincerely appreciate the multitude of expressions of support from the community who appreciated the library’s intention to engage with teens in a new way, in a demonstration of the library as a place for learning and fun—a place where friends come together for conversation and something as simple as a dance without the labels and judgement that are too often a part of everyday life.
“It is unfortunate that this event became associated with political statement and shows of activism, as those are not part of the library’s mission in any way.”
Jacksonville Public Library: Teens’ safety could not be guaranteed
A subsequent statement stressed the decision to cancel the event “does not mean that we agree with — or are bowing to pressure from — those who protested the event.”
It added: “We understand the frustration of many about the recent cancellation of our Pride Prom planned for this Friday.
“We are disappointed that we cannot move forward with the event as planned and are now discussing alternatives in keeping with our original spirit and intent.”
The statement clarified: “We stand by our decision to create the event, just as we stand by our decision to cancel it when we felt the teens’ safety could not be guaranteed.”