Okanagan Regional Library (ORL) president Don Nettleton and members of the libraries’ management team will be undergoing sensitivity and diversity training following comments made about a drag queen storytelling event.
The incident arose in September when Nettleton sent out a memo about a new storytelling event at a Kelowna downtown library where drag queens would be reading stories to children during storytime sessions on Saturdays in September and November.
“A controversial and potentially very divisive story time program has arisen within the ORL,” Nettleton said in the memo dated Sept. 18.
“Almost half of the leadership team was strongly in support of the library being involved in this type of programming…while the other half of the leadership team saw offering such a program target at 3-6 year olds as inappropriate for their age.”
In the memo, Nettleton went on to say that the event would also receive criticism from the Kelowna community.
“The announced program, while claiming to be promoting diversity and acceptance, will be offensive to a significant segment of our society,” Nettleton said.
“These two story times are set to take place in a core program aimed at very young children. The age of this programming will be concerning to many.”
In repsonse to his memo, the library received appoximately 350 pieces of correspondence from the community both in favour of the drag queen story time event and against it.
Michal Utko, director of marketing and community with ORL, confirmed cultural programming at the library — including the drag queen storytelling event — will continue as is for the forseeable future
He also said the sensitivity training for the management team will occur shortly.
“It hasn’t been schedule yet. It will be something happens sooner than later, and no later than next month.”
Despite the controversy, drag queen storytelling events aren’t new to Kelowna. Indigo Kelowna has been offering drag queen storytime events with iconic drag queens like “Daisy Confused” and “Freida Whales” for at least two years.