Pride Month Children's Library Event Canceled After Proud Boys Disruption

A Pride Month children's storytime at an Indiana library was canceled after members of the Proud Boys disrupted the event.

Several members of the Michiana Proud Boys, a branch of the right-wing group, entered the St. Joseph County Public Library's Virginia M. Tutt Branch and berated staff for allegedly pushing sexuality onto children on Monday, according to the South Bend Tribune.

A YouTube video, seen by Newsweek, was uploaded the following day that showed the Proud Boys confronting with staff about the LGBTQ+ books that were going to be read to children.

In the 43-minute clip, the Proud Boys members said staff were "grooming" children's minds and opening them up to "perversion." In a bid to publicize the disruption, one of the members could be seen holding the local Proud Boys' flag.

Photo of a Proud Boys member
Counter protesters wearing the yellow and black colors and insignia of the Proud Boys gather outside the National Rifle Association (NRA) Annual Meeting at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, Texas on May 28, 2022. The Proud Boys disrupted the event at the Indiana library. Getty

At one point in the video, a mother also got involved in the confrontation and criticized the hosts over the event. During the course of the clip, Proud Boys members could be seen praising one another after the parent became involved.

Those who had planned to host the Rainbow Storytime said at multiple times during the event that it was "not about sex."

Library security and police officers were later seen at the site speaking with the mother and Proud Boys.

According to the South Bend Tribune, the event was postponed after many of the families left the library.

Marissa Gebhard, a communications manager for the local libraries told the outlet: "It is a shock and we are very disappointed an event celebrating LGBTQ+ communities was disrupted. Our staff are very affected by this."

She added the event would be rescheduled and that any books that were read would be "carefully selected."

Gebhard told the South Bend Tribune: "The library will always be a welcoming place for everyone of all viewpoints, so the library will continue to offer programs like this no matter what the response is."

Proud Boys have previously disrupted Pride events at libraries across the country. Earlier this month, Proud Boys disrupted a Pride Storytime event at a library in New Hanover, North Carolina. Parents, who attended with their children, said they felt unsafe and said there was a confrontational atmosphere from those at the event.

Newsweek has contacted South Bend Police Department for comment.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Proud Boys "are known for anti-Muslim and misogynistic rhetoric" and have appeared at violent gatherings including the storming of the Capitol on January 6 and the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The group was founded by VICE Media co-founder Gavin McInnes in 2016 and has since been designated as a terrorist entity by the Canadian government, and it has became notorious for political confrontations.

According to the Anti-Defamation League, some Proud Boys have espoused white supremacist and anti-Semitic ideologies.

Newsweek found the Michiana Proud Boys Telegram page has shared anti-COVID-19 vaccine posts as well as anti-Semitic content.

The Telegram channel also forwarded a post by the white supremacist group Patriot Front after several of their members were arrested before they allegedly planned to crash an LGBT event in Idaho.

Newsweek received this statement from St. Joe County Public Libraries:

"On Monday, June 27 at 5 p.m. the Tutt Branch had planned to offer a Rainbow Storytime program followed by bubble wrap rainbow painting. This program was presented in partnership with The Tree House Gender Resource Center.

"Prior to the start of the storytime, a group from the Michiana Proud Boys entered the room and disrupted the program with the intent of canceling it. The Branch Manager intervened and the Library's Public Safety Manager and the South Bend Police Department arrived on site and dealt with the situation.

"A public library is a place of belonging. It is a place for everyone. The Library treats all community members, staff, and partners with dignity and respect. Everyone is welcome at all St. Joe County Public Library facilities.

"Our mission is to provide information and resources to all members of our community, and we do not stand for the spread of misinformation or censorship. We are very saddened by the events on Monday afternoon and deeply disappointed that a program celebrating LGBTQ+ communities was disrupted.

"We will continue to provide inclusive programming. We would also like to apologize to any patrons who were at the library during that time and also to our staff and community partners. The Library is a safe place for everyone, and we will continue to work to make sure that everyone is and feels safe and welcome."