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Local mom ‘picked up, dragged out’ of Renton Library event by police

The Renton Library is one of the places offering free Wi-Fi from the parking lot. (Courtesy of Renton Historical Museum)

Local mom Lynn Meagher said that police physically picked her up out of a chair and dragged her out of a Teen Pride event at the Renton Library this past weekend.

The get-together, part of the King County Library System’s county-wide Pride Month celebrations, marketed itself as an event “suitable for teens and tweens,” where attendees could enter a raffle for free chest binders and learn about safe sex.

Meagher previously came on the Dori Monson Show before the Des Moines Library hosted “Drag Queen Story Hour.” In the interview, she said that she found drag to be an offensive portrayal of women, akin to blackface in the way that it played on negative stereotypes of females.

This past weekend, Meagher and a group of other parents said that they did not go to the Renton Library to cause a scene, but to inform themselves of what local kids are experiencing at their libraries.

Library stands behind binder raffle, says they’re safer than DIY methods

“We didn’t come to dissent, we didn’t come to protest, we came to document,” she said.

She said that the drag queens at the event gave permission for anyone who wished to do so to photograph and film the performances, so she and the other parents were within their rights to document them digitally. A video of one of the performances can be viewed here (warning: sexually explicit dancing and language).

However, “at some point the library staff became aware that we were not exactly friendly to their event,” Meagher said.

She guessed that the questions she had asked about the chest binder gift card raffle during a Q+A period might have tipped them off.

When the Renton Library ended its regular hours at 5 p.m., staying open only for the event-goers, staff announced that every adult not accompanying a teen would need to leave.

“They approached us and only us — none of the other adults there were approached,” Meagher said. “They asked us if we had a teen with us, we said no — and they told us that were going to have to leave.”

The library announced that the event, which lasted until 7 p.m., had become private now that regular hours were over, but Meagher said that nothing on the posters and online advertisements had indicated the event was anything other than open to the public. She suspected this was a new rule made up on the spot to stop her group from documenting any more of the happenings.

“I was not going to let them pull down the shades and do whatever they wanted to these kids in secret,” she said. “And I felt determined that whatever they were going to do, they were going to do it in public.”

After a brief exchange during which Meagher’s group refused to leave, the library staff told her they would call the police. About 40 minutes later, the cops arrived.

“They physically picked me up out of my seat and dragged me out of the library, forcefully,” she said.

She said that the two police officers flanking her pushed her harshly, even though she was walking at a normal pace and not fighting back.

“They were shoving me out of the library, and one of the officers had his thumb [poked] into my arm very sharply and he was hurting my arm,” she said.

When she told him he was causing her pain, she said that he told her to walk faster.

It was not just the drag show and chest binder raffle that upset Meagher — she also was shocked by the amount of sexual information given to the young attendees, some of whom “couldn’t have been more than 10.”

“I had seen bowls of condoms passed out to tween children, they were given lube, they were given information — I had to have some of the things explained to me that they were demonstrating to these children,” she said. “I’m not really sure they needed to know all of this, at this point.”

On Monday, King County Library System spokesperson Sarah Thomas told Dori that the event was chosen and organized by the library’s Teen Voices program, and that the library feels it is important to hold events that reflect the diversity of its King County patrons.

In response to this past weekend’s incident, Meagher and the other parents are circulating petitions for King County residents to pledge that they will cease approving library levies until these types of events stop.

Meagher’s story has reached national news networks, and she doesn’t intend to let her voice get silenced.

“There are people talking about it, and I believe that more and more people are going to be talking about it,” she said. “And I don’t think they’re going to get away with it.”

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