Church steps in to host LGBT prom after library cancels over ‘safety’
A church hosted a prom for LGBT+ teenagers after a library cancelled the event due to safety concerns.
Nearly 100 people attended the Pride Prom at the Buckman Bridge Universalist Church in Jacksonville, Florida.
Around 50 volunteers including police officers made sure the event ran smoothly.
Beatrice Palmer, who hosted the event, told local news outlet News4Jax: “There were absolutely no causes for concern and no religious hate group protesters in attendance.
“The inside was so positive and electric. Everyone was smiling. Lots of Moms were crying happy tears. There were kids dancing, laughing and socialising as if nothing had even happened that week.
“Prom was a success. The kids were dancing and laughing and making new friends. Heard from proud Moms that some of the youth had never met another gay person their age before and this event helped them make friends.”
Jacksonville Public Library had originally planned to hold the inclusive prom event, inviting LGBT+ teens to “come dressed inspired by your favourite book character– casual, formal, or in drag – whatever makes you feel great.”
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The prom, which follows a trend of queer prom events, proved so popular that tickets had completely sold out within just days.
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, protesters and active supporters, and most of all for the teens themselves.”
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