JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A “Storybook Pride Prom” for teenagers that had been scheduled for Friday night, where youth were invited to dress as their favorite book characters — including in drag, was canceled due to stated “emotional and physical safety” concerns and a lack of “adequate security.” The event had generated an impassioned response from both sides, with tickets selling out on one hand but also being opposed by others as being inappropriate for children.
“You’re invited to create your own ‘happily ever after’ at The Storybook Pride Prom!” the event page on the Jacksonville Public Library website read. “Come dressed inspired by your favorite book character — casual, formal, or in drag — whatever makes you feel great. Be you! Bring a date, come solo or with friends, and enjoy music, dancing, refreshments, a selfie station, and more!”
The prom, which was to be held at the Willowbranch Library, was geared toward 14 to 18-year-olds.
Drag queen BeBe Deluxe (Beatrice Palmer) was to have also appeared at the event, but without performing.
However, organizations such as Biblical Concepts Ministries raised concerns over the activity and called upon others to contact the library, mayor and city council to make their views known.
“We need to look into an ordinance that would bar programs inappropriate for children in our public facilities and taxpayer-funded facilities,” founder Raymond Johnson told local television station WJXT-TV.
He also outlined in an email to subscribers that he had spoken to three conservative members of city council, who agreed that the event was not appropriate.
On Monday, following the receipt of hundreds of phone calls on both sides of the issue, the Jacksonville Public Library system decided to cancel the event. Library system spokesman Chris Boivin said that the event was canceled because “adequate security” couldn’t be provided as “there is so much uncertainty based on so many comments that we received.”
“There were a lot for, but there [also] were an awful lot of people against, having this event,” he told WJXT-TV. “There were some things that could be construed as threats.”
“I made the call with the information I had at the time and that information was not anything that was an imminent threat,” Directory Tim Rogers also stated. “It was about the emotional and physical safety of the kids that they were inviting to this teen program, and that’s all it was.”
See public statements from the library system here and here.
“We are disappointed that we cannot move forward with the event as planned and are now discussing alternatives in keeping with our original spirit and intent,” it said. “We stand by our decision to create the event, just as we stand by our decision to cancel it when we felt the teens’ safety could not be guaranteed.”
However, some are now upset that the event has been canceled and are angry both at library officials and Johnson. According to reports, an estimated 75 people held a demonstration outside the library during when the event was to have taken place. Many held rainbow flags or signs.
Some have called for Rogers to resign. Others have written opposing messages on Johnson’s Facebook page.
“Teaching kids to worship an imaginary friend who will grant all of their wishes if they give away 10% of their money is a better example of child abuse in my opinion,” one commenter wrote.
“As far as organized religion, you all are a bunch of hypocrites. … [W]e hear about molestation from clergy of the Catholic and Baptist churches. You need to look [at] judging yourselves before you judge others!” another stated.
“I hope the community organizes a protest against your church,” a third remarked.
“You all should die for what you did to those LGBT youths,” one lashed out.
As previously reported, the Bible teaches that all men are in the same predicament: All are born with the Adamic sin nature, having various inherent inclinations that are contrary to the law of God and unable to break free from the power of sin in and of themselves.
It was the love of God that sent Christ to take the punishment for guilty man, a doctrine called propitiation.
“For He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him,” 2 Corinthians 5:21 states.
Isaiah 53:5-6 says, “He was wounded for our transgressions. He was bruised for our iniquities. The chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and with His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way, and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”
1 John 4:10 reads, “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
The gospel message, or good news, is that Christ came to reconcile sinners at enmity with God, and that by the work of regeneration of the Holy Spirit, men can be born anew and set free from the power of sin. The same message calls upon men to repent and trust in Christ to save.
The late British preacher Charles Spurgeon once said, “If Christ has died for me, ungodly as I am, without strength as I am, then I cannot live in sin any longer. I must arouse myself to love and serve Him who has redeemed me. I cannot trifle with the evil that killed my best Friend. I must be holy for His sake. How can I live in sin when He has died to save me from it?”