Public comments and speeches from the Talcott Library board meeting
Several people from the Rockton area spoke at the June 26, 2023 board meeting, both for and against the planned drag Q&A. This compilation of speeches was begun on June 26 but not published until July 2023. Some of these speeches were prepared but not delivered at the meeting.
Hello and thank you for the opportunity to speak in front of the board and the community tonight. My name is Kelly Kulak. I am a mother and a resident of Rockton. I am here asking you to make the right choice for our community. Do not cancel the drag queen event at the library.
Those who are against this event are using weaponized religion to fear monger and force their views on the community. The claims that the LGBTQ community is trying to sexually abuse children are nothing but an attempt to gaslight those who may not be familiar with performance drag, and in the case of drag events, diminishes the very purpose — allowing people to express themselves and celebrate their breakaway from traditional gender norms.
Data has shown that a majority of child predators are actually heterosexual. Only 20% of people on the U.S. sex offender registry identify as part of the LGBTQ community. Unless those who are against this event are also against churches, schools, sports teams, Boy Scout troops, and spending time with extended family, all of which statistics show grooming occurs most, then it’s obvious that they are acting in the interest of their religious beliefs and not in the interest of protecting our children.
Since 1791, America has stood for a separation of church and state. Let’s not tarnish Rockton’s reputation by disregarding that founding principal.
A healthy local culture concentrates on affirming responsible parent’s rights and family integrity. It is the responsibility of elected representatives to give paramount attention to the protection of children and families. Sometimes this means setting limits on what public institutions should not do. It is our duty as parents, grandparents, aunts & uncles to inform public service representatives when important limits are being threatened.
The subject at hand is of an adult nature and does not belong in the library as a program for the youth. The home with parents making decisions as to what and when adult material is shared with children is the proper place for such themed material. If individual parents choose to expose their children to this kind of material, it is their choice. Tax dollars should not be used to promote subject matter that belongs in the hands of parents. I would like to see this program canceled.
My name is Tierra Polfliet, I’m speaking today on behalf of my husband and I - longtime Rockton residents and parents who support this event, our library and our lgbtq+ community.
It’s been disappointing to see the negative response by some to this event. It is disheartening to see it being unnecessarily and erroneously sexualized, whether out of hate, ignorance, or misinformed parents who love their kids.
I love my kids too. And I love Rockton.
I believe in this towns capacity for growth. For progressive ideals that allow our children to feel seen and celebrated. I want them to be raised in a community that embraces their individuality and encourages self discovery. That creates safe spaces to see diverse representation.
Cancelling an event like this changes that narrative. It’s bigoted and puritanical and dangerous, an attempt to engage in queer-bashing under the guise of morality.
We teach our kids that diversity is beautiful and should be celebrated. That representation and inclusion matter. That we ARE how we treat each other. That their town, our town is a safe and welcoming place for everyone. Let’s hold that true. Thank you.
Note: Neilsen, a Woodstock resident, attended the meeting but did not present her speech.
The mere fact that this library receives state tax money - I have the legal right to speak and to seek redress of grievances. Sexually oriented acts have no business being performed or even discussed in front of anyone younger than 18.
Some will state, "Certain ‘communities’ of children benefit from these types of events for their self-development, self-awareness, etc.” That is complete nonsense. No minor child benefits from exposure to pornography, graphic sexual imagery, or discussion of perverted and medically dangerous sexual practices. No human being at all benefits from any of this. You’re sacrificing the well-being of the children in this community.
We have specific laws to protect minors under 18 from obscenity materials and grooming. There’s a reason for that. The harm that pornography, graphic sexual imagery, and discussing these things with children and teenagers do will affect them for the rest of their lives is well documented by the medical profession. Some of the things it does to children and teenagers are:
- It distorts their view of sex
- It desensitizes them and actually re-wires their brain
- It can lead to life-long sexual addiction
- It causes sexual dysfunction, depression, aggression, and other mental health issues.
- It makes it difficult to form intimate relationships
- It makes children susceptible to sexual predators.
Who is being targeted here with this event? Obviously, the children, and it's being propagated and paid for by a governmental institution with tax money. The State of Illinois education is clearly and flagrantly below standard. Why aren’t you inviting history, science, and literature discussions to bring up the standards of our state? What is worse? We shouldn’t have to be here telling you this. Cancel this event and focus on fundamental education. Thank you.
Hello everyone. My name is Jessica Green, and I am a 21-year-old activist from right here in Rockton. I am a young member of the LGBTQ community, and I am proud to have organized and brought this incredible group of supporters here with me this evening.
I grew up coming to summer camp here at the Rockton Community Center, and this building has always been a safe space and held such positive memories for me. Now, I stand here tonight- feeling unsafe, disappointed, and disgusted. I should not have to be here- at this meeting- fighting for drag and LGBTQ individuals, like myself, to live and exist without fear and hatred. But yet, I fight.
Libraries are meant for everyone, and they are not places for your hatred to be directed. Every person should be represented within the walls of libraries, regardless of gender and sexuality. Libraries are supposed to be inclusive havens of learning and education, and this Drag Q and A event aims to do just that. A drag queen coming to educate others about the beauty of drag, her costumes and makeup, and her self-expression is not a threat to anyone. I can say that from experience.
After coming out publicly this year, I attended my first pride event and I remember seeing a drag queen for the first time in person. I was in awe of her, and so were the children watching. I will never forget the smile on one little girl's face as she handed the drag queen a dollar. That pride event with those drag queens was the most inclusive, accepting, and safe place I have ever been.
So why, if this is my experience, are these people “afraid” of a drag Q and A? Because they are afraid of people different than them. They are afraid of ideology, education, and imagery that doesn’t fit the traditional cis, white, Christian lifestyle. And they are afraid of their kids being able to express themselves freely. But guess what? The world is changing, and you should too, for the sake of your kids’ lives especially.
This Drag Q and A event and what it represents is not a political issue. It’s not a left or right issue. It’s a human rights issue. If you choose not to have the event at the library, you will be sending a very clear message to the drag and LGBTQ communities in the area that our representation is under attack. Your choice could literally cost people their lives, because they will be living in a community that does not accept them.
According to the Trevor Project, 1.8 million LGBTQ youth seriously consider attempting suicide every year, and at least one attempts every 45 seconds.
Your taxpayer dollars, your religious ideologies, your self-image, and your hatred- are not worth more than the lives of individuals in the drag and LGBTQ communities.
So in conclusion, regardless of the choice that you, as a board, make this evening, we have already won. First, because we have managed to bring together LGBTQ, trans, drag, and allied individuals from across the area to rally around this event. And second, because this Drag Q and A event WILL happen. We call for you, the Talcott Library board, to allow this Drag Q and A event to proceed as planned at the library. And if you choose not to allow that, then we will hold the event at an alternative location and make it even bigger!
Our inclusive generation of young people will win. If not today, someday. And with each day that passes- our voices are becoming louder and we will drown out your hate. We won’t let hate win today, or ever. Because drag, LGBTQ, and trans communities are welcome here in Rockton!
The National Impact of Library Public Programs Assessment states that public library programming should create opportunities for continuing education and life long learning. Programs should serve a community’s diversity through engaging entertainment, enrichment, and opportunities to encounter new ideas.
While I agree that drag is typically seen in night clubs and other “adult” spaces, it is certainly not exclusive to those spaces. Drag brunches in restaurants, Drag story hours in libraries, and numerous other public events. More mainstream, drag is a part of theater, major motion pictures, and even on prime time television. These things all point to drag not being exclusively for adults.
To know that this event was brought to the library through its Teen Advisory Board means that there are children, teens, who wish to gain more knowledge through this event. This is not adults attempting to push an agenda. This is adults working with teens to provide accessible programming in their community that they wish to see.
I implore the board to cut through the noise surrounding this event, and hear instead the voices of the youth who wish to find knowledge and acceptance through this program. The goal of a public library should always be “more”. More representation, more knowledge, more information, and more access and involvement. To take away from the community is to hold back the community.
More about the issue
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