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Timeline: Drag Queen Story Hour in Lancaster leads to bomb threats

  • By Brett Sholtis/LNP | LancasterOnline
Two Lancaster police officers cross through Ewell Plaza after clearing the library of a bomb threat on March 23, 2024.

 LNP | LancasterOnline

Two Lancaster police officers cross through Ewell Plaza after clearing the library of a bomb threat on March 23, 2024.

Wed., Feb. 21: Lancaster Public Library adds the drag queen story hour event to its online calendar. It is scheduled for Saturday, March 23. By March 1 the library has also published a printed calendar and posted the event on Facebook and Instagram. By this point, only a few people have signed up. The library hasn’t received any complaints.

Thur., March 7: Lancaster County Commissioner Josh Parsons complains on X, the social media site formerly called Twitter, about the Drag Queen Story Hour. Parsons has not attempted to speak with library staff, who later say he is mischaracterizing the event’s format and content. Parsons has just over 1,000 X followers. To this day, his post has received only three likes, three shares and a handful of replies, mostly from people supporting the library and the planned drag queen story hour. By the end of the day Thursday, just thirteen families are signed up.

Fri., March 8: Local TV station WGAL runs a segment, “County commissioner raises concerns about ‘Drag Queen Story Hour’ at Lancaster Public Library.” Lancaster Pride President Tiffany Shirley also appears in the piece.

Sat., March 9: The GOP-aligned political activist group Gays Against Groomers posts images online taken from the drag performer’s public Facebook page. The images are ads for an adults-only drag event. The group begins building a misleading narrative around the performer and scheduled event. Gays Against Groomers has nearly 420,000 followers on X, where the post is liked 841 times and shared more than 300 times. Other social sites also widely share the post.

Wed., March 13: At a weekly Lancaster County Commissioners’ meeting, Republican Commissioner Ray D’Agostino puts on display the images highlighted by Gays Against Groomers. The images have been cropped, cut and pasted on a slide. At the meeting, county residents voice their disapproval of Parsons and support for the upcoming event.

Wed., March 13: Just after noon, the California-based account Libs of TikTok posts about the drag queen story hour on X, where it has 2.9 million followers. The post is liked more than 5,600 times and shared about 2,100 times.

Thur., March 14: With all the attention on the drag queen story hour, local interest in the event has surged. The library now has more than 200 families signed up. The performer discusses doing a second story hour on the same day to handle the demand. At the same time, opposition is growing. GOP House Republican Leader Bryan Cutler issues a statement opposing the event.

Sat., March 16: LNP confirms a member of the local Moms for Liberty Chapter gets a permit for a prayer rally that will be held across the street from the library; LGBTQ+-groups have already organized a “wall of love” in the plaza immediately outside the library’s main entrance to help families enter without being exposed to any potential protesters.

Wed., March 20: The Lancaster County Commissioners’ meeting is dominated by area residents who oppose the drag queen story hour.

Thurs., March 21: The Moms for Liberty member who obtained a permit for a prayer rally across from the library says she has given up the permit. Some people begin organizing a prayer event for Friday evening. City police say they are planning an increased presence downtown on Saturday.

Fri., March 22: Around 6 p.m. over 100 protesters gather to pray and hold a “Jericho Walk” to ask God to prevent the drag queen story hour from happening

Sat., March 23. Around 9:30 a.m. police conduct a security sweep of the library. A bomb-sniffing dog “alerts” on a package. Police evacuate the building and call the state police bomb squad as a precaution. Event host Lancaster Pride decides to cancel.

Sat., March 23. Just after noon, emailed bomb threats target the LNP newsroom, Lancaster Pride, a reporter at LNP and the Starbucks near LNP’s office. The Starbucks is where Lancaster Pride, Library Staff, and some LNP reporters were gathered after the suspicious package led to the initial evacuation of the library. People evacuate the area. Police close off several city blocks.

Sat., March 23. Around 3 p.m., GOP county commissioners issue statements. Parsons raises the possibility that the bomb threats could have come from supporters of the drag queen story hour as a way to cast blame on opponents. He says police will find the person responsible.

Sat., March 23: At 3:16 p.m., the Lancaster police announce the evacuation order is lifted after no bombs or other threats were found.

Sources: News reports, analysis of social media accounts, input from researchers and additional information from Leigh Kalis, Lancaster Public Library communications director. GOP County Commissioners Josh Parsons and Ray D’Agostino did not respond to requests for comment.

This reporter’s work is funded by the Lancaster County Local Journalism Fund. For more information, or to make a contribution, please visit


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