Tuesday night, the St. Joseph Public Library held its first Board of Trustees meeting since its announcement of a Drag Queen Story Hour set to take place on Sept. 10.
The meeting, which began at 5 p.m. at the Downtown Library, saw both supporters and opponents meeting face-to-face after weeks of online contention.
A petition calling for the event to be canceled has 1,390 signatures as of 4 p.m. on Tuesday, while a petition in support of the event has 1,755 signatures.
Lara Muse, the woman who started the petition against the event, spoke to the board, saying that she was hesitant to appear and speak out.
"I continue to stick my neck out, for my children who come to the library," Muse said. "St. Joe is not every city in the USA. St. Joe is built with uncommon character. I don't believe we're called to fit into the group, I believe we're called to stand out."
While many spoke against the event, with some citing biblical passages as reasons to oppose the Drag Queen Story Hour, others spoke of divine love and acceptance of all of God's children. Bill Luce, a member of Zion United Church of Christ, spoke of this acceptance.
"There are those of us that being welcome and affirming is an important part of our faith," Luce said. "Be that as it may, we are tolerant of those who disagree with us; that is their right, and that is why we are here to air our opinions. In the end, there’s separation of church and state, religious freedom. Encourage more programs like this, not less."
While the board gave every citizen the chance to give their opinion, the decision to host the Drag Queen Story Hour did not waiver, with the event scheduled to proceed as planned.
While the board appeared to show a united front during the hourlong community comment portion of its meeting, two members of the board recently announced their resignations.
On Friday, Aug. 23, library director Mary Beth Revels announced the resignation of two board members. Both Dan Mefford and Brad Weil cited personal reasons in their resignation letters that were filed on Aug. 16 and Aug. 22, respectively. The two open positions will be filled by individuals selected by Mayor Bill McMurray and approved by the St. Joseph City Council.