What was originally a reading event for children has turned into a lightning rod over the use of a St. Joseph library.
In September, the library plans to host an hour-long event hosted by a drag queen to support the LGBTQ community. Lara Muse, a Country Club Village Resident, wants to see the library cancel the event, going so far as to create a petition for those in opposition.
Because of that petition, Muse said she’s received harassing messages on Facebook and over text message. Some of those messages, viewed by a News-Press NOW reporter, threaten to call family services to have Muse’s children removed from her home.
Some of the messages home in on the word “pedophilic,” a word Muse used in her online petition. Muse’s husband, Donald Muse, is a registered sex offender. He pleaded guilty to child molestation in the first degree in 2006.
“This is a blatant attempt to push a sexual and pro-pedophilic agenda, using a public library and therefore public funds as the platform,” Muse said in her petition.
The victim in Donald Muse’s case, whom News-Press NOW isn’t naming, said some people have gone too far with their comments. The victim said her children have received inappropriate messages of a sexual nature.
“I just honestly believe the harassment and threats need to stop,” she said. “As the victim, I’m setting the record straight.”
St. Joseph Public Library Director Mary Beth Revels said anyone who sends hateful messages isn’t representing the library, and called for those messages to end.
“Nobody should be harassed,” she said. “I can tell you the library has received some not very nice messages as well.”
“I would ask anybody who thinks they’re doing the right thing by being mean to stop,” Revels said.
Despite the petition, which has over 1,000 signatures as of 6 p.m. Thursday, Revels said the library will not cancel the event. With protesters expected, the library hired two off-duty police officers to provide security.
“We want protesters to be safe. We want counter-protesters to be safe,” Revels said. “We certainly want to see the people who are here for this fun program to be safe.”
More than 400 people have responded to a Facebook post for the event saying they’ll attend. Revels expects more people to attend than the library has capacity for.
Muse said the petition wasn’t meant as a personal attack against the performer who plans to read during the event. Rather, she said she didn’t think the library should be exposing children to such a lifestyle.
“Drag Queen Story Hour” will be hosted Tuesday, Sept. 10, at 6 p.m. The event is the fourth installment of a series titled “Celebrating All of US.”