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Illinois library defends drag-themed event for teens: 'A celebration of self-identity'
September 01 2022, 08:00

A public library in Illinois is defending its decision to hold a "drag queen bingo" event for local teenagers, claiming that it will be a "valuable" and "affirming" experience.

Downers Grove Public Library's "Drag Bingo" event, which is already sold-out, is set for October 11. The event, which coincides with National Coming Out Day, will feature a drag queen named Aurora Divine.

The event plans to feature several rounds of bingo and include a "short, age-appropriate lip sync" of "Firework" by Katy Perry. It's geared towards teens between the ages of 12 and 18.

Library director Julie Milavec issued a lengthy 4-page statement defending the library's decision to concerned parents. 

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According to Milavec, the library received "an abundance of positive feedback," but she acknowledged that some parents felt the event was inappropriate.

"[A concern] repeatedly voiced to us is that we are purposefully introducing sexual content to children. This is also completely untrue," Milavec wrote in the letter. "This performance will not be sexual in nature."

"We understand that this topic will be controversial to some, however we must recognize that not including them also causes harm," the library's director added.

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Milavec also said the library wanted to provided an opportunity for teens to see a drag show without endangering themselves by going into a bar. 

"We knew that providing an opportunity for teens to see a drag show without having to go into the city or to a bar would be valuable," Milavec wrote. "We’re making the experience accessible while also making sure it’s an age appropriate performance."

Milavec also affirmed that parents are at liberty to decide whether they want their children to attend. Though the event is full, the library has a waitlist available for interested patrons.

Drag-themed events for children are a controversial – but increasingly popular – trend. A drag-themed brunch for kids in Texas attracted protests from parents as well as Antifa counter-protestors, who showed up masked and displayed weapons.