***Editor’s Note: This story has been corrected to state that city administrators approved the permit.***
WADSWORTH, Ohio (WJW) – Wadsworth City Council met Tuesday evening for the first time after city administrators approved a permit for a controversial Drag Queen Story Hour, where men dressed in drag will be reading stories to children at a local park on Saturday.
The event is organized by Aaron Reed.
“What will happen at this event on Saturday is a quiet, polite book reading about humanism and human equality followed by a short rock and roll jam session,” Reed told FOX 8 on Tuesday.
Reed calls the struggle for LGBTQ rights the new civil rights battle of this generation. He says his event has exposed what he calls the hatred and bigotry of those who have spoken out in opposition to the event.
“If a woman can wear a dress and makeup in front of kids and read a book, so can a man,” said Reed.
Among those who have been the most outspoken against the event is Gary Fox, the state outreach director of Ohioan’s for a Responsible Government.
Fox, a strong supporter of free speech and the rights guaranteed by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, believes there are exceptions when it comes to the wellbeing of children.
“I guess the safety, for lack of a better word, of children and the influence of certain speech upon their development and so we have a system where Hollywood has to abide by a rating system,” Fox said.
Opponents have most strongly opposed the concert and dance that is planned to follow the story time.
It is something Reed refers to as ‘Dirty Dancing’ opposition, referring to a 1987 film starring Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Gray.
Many also worry about confrontations that may happen between demonstrators who are expected to come from out of town.
“I’m taking death threats from all over the country from, you know, white supremacist groups and the KKK,” said Reed.
Council President Bob Thurber said he intends to propose legislation for discussion at a future council meeting that would ban similar events in the future, referring to them as “adult-oriented performances” in his letter to the city.
Reed insists there already are ordinances on the books that prohibit adult-oriented performances and says that is not what the Drag Queen Story Hour is about.
Similar events in New York and elsewhere have attracted demonstrators.
“There are drag shows in Medina County and throughout the state that go off without a hitch as far as no protesting,” said Fox.
“It’s the issue of having children involved in an environment that’s just not conducive for their wellbeing,” he added.