Emails Reveal the Playbook Used Against Libraries Planning ‘Drag Story Time’ Events

Internal messages shared with 404 Media show how an official’s complaint about a drag queen story hour can spiral into bomb threats against the library hosting it.
Emails Reveal the Playbook Used Against Libraries Planning ‘Drag Story Time’ Events
Image: Lancaster Public Library on Instagram.

A drag queen story hour at a Pennsylvania public library was canceled in March after a bomb threat was made against the library. New internal messages shared with 404 Media show the full text of this threat, and reveal the extreme lengths that anti-LGBTQ actors have gone to terrorize and threaten libraries that stock books that they want banned and that have planned drag reading events.

In February, the Lancaster Public Library organized a drag queen story time event for children in coordination with Lancaster Pride, the local LGBTQ organization. The event, slated for March 23, planned to feature Miss Amie, a performer who frequently does kid-oriented shows. Public records obtained by Adam Steinbaugh, an attorney at the First Amendment rights group FIRE, and shared with 404 Media detail the extreme threats of violence made against the library and local officials, as well as their responses. The emails also show that a group called “Harrisburg Pride” opposed the event, but officials were unsure whether the organization even exists.

Lancaster County Commissioner Josh Parsons publicly responded to the announcement of the event with disgust. In a thread on X, Parsons wrote that the event was “graphic” and promoted “an adult agenda,” and that the library was “signaling to the world that they are a fully woke, politicized organization and if you do not embrace their agenda completely, you are not welcomed at their library… [sic].”

“There’s no agenda,” said Tiffany Shirley, the director of Lancaster Pride, in an interview with local news station WGAL at the time. “We just want to read books and spend time together.”

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