DOWNERS GROVE, Ill. (WLS) — It all started when the Downers Grove Public Library announced the inclusion of a drag queen bingo event in their latest newsletter. Now the library is embroiled in the middle of a controversy that has grown larger than the village itself.
The library announced it would host an event on October 11 called Drag Bingo, set to coincide with National Coming Out Day. The event is geared toward seventh to 12th grade students.
“We want to create a safe environment where teens can see difference being celebrated first-hand with a performance that is accessible and age-appropriate,” said Julie Milavec, director of the Downers Grove Public Library.
According to library officials, the event will include a drag queen hosting a bingo game, who will then offer a brief performance where they will lip sync Katy Perry’s song “Rainbow.”
But those who oppose it say a drag show is, by definition, sexual in nature and does not belong in a taxpayer-funded setting.
“I understand that we should support those kids. They shouldn’t be punished, teased, bullied, all equal rights and stuff and we should embrace that. But this is a little bit unnecessary and radical,” said Terry Newsome of Parents Involved in Education.
“This would be wrong if it was about it, it was about straight sex, and it had sexual overtones. It’s not appropriate for seventh grade through 12th grade. That’s something that should be taught that’s dealt with in the home, and not something that’s dealt with in a public library,” said Keith Pekau, mayor of Orland Park and Republican congressional candidate for the 6th District.
The event, one of more than 900 the library hosts every year, will cost $125 to put on, an amount they say has already been covered by a donor.
Pastor Kirk Moor ministers at one of Downers Grove’s two LGBTQ+ affirming congregations and bemoans the controversy that’s been stirred up.
“In the meantime kids who are trans or kids who are gay or kids who are lesbian or whatever it is are caught and told that they are terrible just because some grownups want to score some political points and I think it’s terrible,” he said.
The library says they will not cancel the event, which has already reached full capacity, but admit they will be engaging in conversations with the local police department to provide security on that night.
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