ACLU OF LOUISIANA FILES LAWSUIT
CHALLENGING PUBLIC LIBRARY’S
BAN ON DRAG QUEEN STORY TIME
DECEMBER 21, 2018

LAFAYETTE, LA – The American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana today filed
a lawsuit challenging the Lafayette Public Library’s ban on Drag Queen Story
Time, an educational program designed to encourage tolerance and combat
gender stereotypes.

The lawsuit, brought by two Lafayette Parish residents who wish to organize
a Drag Queen Story Time at the library, asserts that the ban violates the First
Amendment and infringes on their constitutionally-protected right to free
speech.

“Lafayette library officials have imposed a gag order on their patrons,” said
Katie Schwartzmann, ACLU of Louisiana legal director. “It’s a fundamental
principle of our democracy that the government can’t discriminate against
you – or silence you – based on the content of your speech. The fact that this
particular ban targets LGBTQ Louisianans based upon fear-mongering and
discrimination is particularly egregious. The Lafayette library and Parish
government have to stand up to anti-LGBTQ extremists and start defending
the rights of everyone it serves.”

Earlier this month, the fringe, self-styled “Warriors for Christ” filed a frivolous
lawsuit to block Drag Queen Story Time. Because of the lawsuit, the Lafayette
Public Library began requiring anyone seeking to use the library meeting
room to sign a form disavowing any affiliation with Drag Queen Story Time
and pledging not to use the space for that purpose.  

“These extremists are attempting to usurp the public library for their
intolerant agenda,” said ACLU of Louisiana Staff Attorney Bruce Hamilton.
“Their baseless claims are legally and factually incorrect, and we won’t let
them use the legal system to spread hatred and intolerance.”

The form requires users to certify that “the purpose of your use of the
Lafayette Public Library’s meeting room does not pertain in any way to ‘Drag
Queen Story Hour,’ directly or indirectly.” The form also threatens residents
that they may be sued if they use the library for that purpose.

“Kids who are different have to know it’s okay, and kids who aren’t different
have to know it’s okay for other kids to be different. That’s what Drag Queen
Story Time is all about,” said plaintiff Matthew Humphrey, explaining why he
wants to organize a Drag Queen Story Time event at the public library in
January. The event was planned to teach kids about inclusion and anti-
bullying.

“Drag Queen Story Time has widespread support in Lafayette, and it’s called
a ‘public’ library for a reason. We’re not just fighting for Drag Queen Story
Time, we’re fighting for everyone’s right to be themselves and speak their
minds – without being discriminated against, censored or banished from
public spaces,” said plaintiff Aimee Robinson.

Arguing that the library’s policy constitutes targeted, viewpoint-based
discrimination in violation of the First Amendment, the lawsuit asks the court
to declare the ban unconstitutional and enjoin the Lafayette Public Library
from enforcing it.

via: ACLU of Louisiana

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