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ACLU files lawsuit over Lafayette Public Library’s Drag Queen Story Time ban

Posted at 12:14 PM, Dec 21, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-21 13:38:50-05

The American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana has filed a lawsuit challenging the Lafayette Public Library’s ban on Drag Queen Story Time.

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.

The ACLU says that the story time is meant to be an educational program designed to encourage tolerance and combat gender stereotypes.

After another lawsuit filed by a group called “Warriors for Christ,” 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, according to the ACLU.

The form allegedly 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.” They say the form also states that residents may be sued if they use the library for that purpose.

The lawsuit against the library’s ban argues that the policy constitutes “targeted, viewpoint-based discrimination  in violation of the First Amendment.” They are asking the court to declare the ban on Drag Queen Story time or other events associated with Drag Queen Story Time unconstitutional and stop the Lafayette Public Library from enforcing that ban.

“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.”

The complaint can be read here: Drag Queen Story Time ban complaint