It was a headline that sounded more like a parody than real life: "Louisiana Library Plans 'Drag Queen Story Hour' for Children." Unfortunately for the town of Lafayette, it wasn't a joke. It was an honest-to-goodness public event, scheduled with the help of the taxpayer-funded library.
"It's important for young kids to understand this is normal behavior, even if it may be different to some," said student Brad Parfait, a sophomore at UL-Lafayette whose LGBT-focused fraternity was sponsoring the event. But there's nothing normal about having grown men in women's dresses read to little children. And once the community found out, it sent that message to local leaders loud and clear. Residents were so outraged by the idea that Lafayette Mayor-President Joel Robideaux issued a statement hinting that the event would be canceled. It wasn't.
Instead, he hosted a standing room-only public parish meeting. "This library is an innovative, progressive beacon here in Lafayette," said one mom. "Its job is not to make everyone comfortable with every single program. If you don't like it, don't go -- or just pretend it's not happening." You can't pretend it's not happening, argued others, when the library's funded by taxpayer dollars. The debate over the event, which targets kids ages three to six, got so heated that the president of the library's board of directors resigned.
When the city's meeting didn't resolve it, two Christian groups filed a federal lawsuit. Another 50 pastors signed a letter to members of the Lafayette City-Parish Council. Others, like Catholic student groups and local conservative groups, racked up almost 20,000 signatures on a petition calling on leaders to cancel the October 6 event. By the end of September, the issue had become so radioactive that the library announced it was moving Drag Queen Story Hour to South Louisiana Community College, a venue, it argued, that could deal with larger crowds. (A decision that was hardly necessary, given how few people are showing up at similar events around the country.)
Late last week, even SLCC seemed wary of the idea and announced -- to the cheers of parents everywhere -- that it was postponing the event "indefinitely" due to so-called "security concerns." Gene Mills, the president of the Louisiana Family Forum, who helped lead the fight, doesn't care what reasons they give, as long as this twisted idea is off the table for now.
"What we have witnessed in this debate," he said, "is the importance of Christian engagement in government! Courage begets courage, and your voice emboldens others! What we also witnessed was the brokenness and vulnerability in the culture around us. A brokenness for which there is only one solution -- Jesus Christ. We must pray for those who struggle with their identity and we must speak in a spirit of love while balancing that love with the truth that sets men and women free rather than offering empathetic bondage."
Although the battle isn't over -- not in Lafayette, and certainly not in towns across America -- Gene's right. There's no limit to what Christians can accomplish when they get involved in standing for truth! Way to go, Louisiana -- and other states: take note!