Ketchikan’s City Council will once again consider drag queen story time. The question is whether the city-owned public library will host one as part of its Pride Month programming in June.
In mid-April, Ketchikan’s City Manager, Delilah Walsh, emailed the mayor and City Council saying [web: informing them that] she directed the library to remove a drag queen story time from its programming this year. Walsh cited public pushback in her decision to cancel the reading.
The city of Ketchikan has a council-manager system of government, meaning the city manager acts as the city’s chief administrator, and is subject to direction by the City Council.
Last June, the Ketchikan Public Library held its first-ever drag queen story time. The event was very popular with three separate sessions held to accommodate all of the attendees. But prior, the issue of holding the event dominated two council meetings with dozens of residents testifying for hours both in favor and in opposition. The council ultimately voted 5-2 to allow the event to proceed. In addition, a citizen-led effort to cut library funding was, in part, spurred by drag queen story time. That initiative failed with a public vote.
At the city council’s May 4 meeting, Council Member Janalee Gage asked that two items be added to a future agenda – one, for staff to develop a city council policy to uphold drag queen story time. And secondly, a separate policy to support department programming that meets the needs of protected classes in order to promote understanding and acceptance of marginalized groups in the community. Mayor Dave Kiffer asked the council if it wanted to move forward with these items and at least four hands were raised.
Ketchikan’s City Council meets at 7 p.m. Thursday at City Hall. Members of the public may comment at the beginning of the meeting. The meeting is broadcast on local cable channels and live streamed on the city’s website.
UPDATE: The meeting was rescheduled for Tuesday, May 23 at 7 p.m.