In July, a Lumberjanes discussion with writer Lilah Sturges at the Leander Public Library in Leander, Texas was abruptly canceled two hours before its planned start time. When the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and National Coalition Against Censorship spoke up with the CBLDF’s Kids’ Right to Read Project (KRRP) partners, Leander City Council claimed there was miscommunication with the library about temporary changes to its policy. These included a background check requirement that Sturges wasn’t informed of until the event cancellation and to which previous speakers had not been subjected.
At San Diego Comic-Con, CBLDF Executive Director Charles Brownstein said the policy changes were in response to local pushback against Drag Queen Storytime; the library had decided to freeze all events involving children, except it seems only Sturges’ event was affected by the change.
“By all appearances, it looks like the Leander Public Library canceled this event on a discriminatory basis,” said Brownstein at SDCC, “because Lilah is a trans author, and because this follows a moral panic involving LGBTQI materials.”
Earlier this week, my appearance at the Leander Public Library to talk about Lumberjanes with kids was abruptly canceled, hours before the event was to take place. Last month the city canceled a drag queen story hour. I am, by the way, a transgender woman. https://t.co/AhmIcitDPa
— Lilah Sturges, Kindness Lady (@LilahSturges) July 11, 2019
From the KRRP letter CBLDF sent in July:
Since adopting temporary event policy, Sturges is the only guest speaker to be denied access to the library. Several youth events have been held in meeting rooms without city official review, including a Mad Science children’s event during the week Sturges was scheduled to speak. Guest speakers unaffiliated with the library, like REPCO Wildlife, have since been allowed access to library spaces and young patrons without background checks or prior city approval. This capricious application of expanded restrictions strongly suggests a bias against Sturges’s gender identity and a gross violation of First Amendment principles.
Today (Thursday, August 15), the Leander City Council will meet to discuss the proposed changes to the library’s programming policy that led to the cancellation of Sturges’ event. CBLDF and NCAC urge the council to immediately restore Sturges’ planned Lumberjanes discussion with the Graphic Novel Book Club; they call on the council to reaffirm their commitment to expression and inclusion, with the support of Councilwoman Christine Sederquist. Sederquist called for accountability at the previous city council meeting, demanding to know who put the policy changes into effect without a vote.
When that didn’t work, Sederquist took to Twitter to call for #JusticeForLilah.
If you are in the Leander/Austin area, you can attend the City Council meeting, which is open to the public, to support Lilah Sturges and demand that the City Council adopts inclusive library policies. Per the online calendar, Leander City Council will hold an executive session at 6 p.m. and the regular meeting at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 15 at Pat Bryson Municipal Hall located on 201 N. Brushy Street.
If you are not in the Leander/Austin area, you can still show your support: Send an e-mail ([email protected]