Columbus-area House Democrats responded Saturday after Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder criticized gay pride events at public libraries, helping to lead to the cancellation of one in Licking County.

Householder, whose district includes about half of Licking County, posted his letter on Facebook and Twitter, where it generated robust discussion.

The June 7 event at the Licking County Library, aimed at teenagers, was planned to include a variety of offerings. The one that generated backlash from Householder, R-Glenford, and others in social-media circles focused on tutorials for drag queen makeup.

The Delaware County Library District also announced earlier in the week that it was canceling an hourlong class, “Drag 101,” that had been scheduled for June 5. After some teens in the community requested it, the program was to focus on the theatrical elements of the art form, for those ages 12 to 17.

Householder wrote that when he first heard of libraries being used to host drag queen educational programing for teens, he thought it was a joke.

“This is a stunningly bizarre breach of the public trust. And it must stop,” Householder wrote Friday in a letter to the Ohio Library Council.

“Our libraries are an incubator for thought and ideas, for debate and discussion. On this point, we all can agree. But I can also assure you the taxpayers aren’t interested in seeing their hard-earned dollars being used to teach teenage boys how to become drag queens. I expect this to end immediately.”

On Saturday, eight House Democrats from Franklin County issued a joint statement, calling Householder’s comments “unfortunate.”

“It now appears another Library system is shutting down its PRIDE programming because of the furor this statement created,” said the release, signed by Reps. Kristin Boggs of Columbus, Richard Brown of Canal Winchester, Erica Crawley of Columbus, David Leland of Columbus, Mary Lightbody of Westerville, Beth Liston of Dublin, Adam Miller of Columbus and Allison Russo of Upper Arlington.

“Let’s be clear, the promise of America is not that we all agree on everything, but that we all agree to let everyone have their voice. That is certainly true for the nearly 500,000 LGBTQ Ohioans. At a time when the national political discourse has reached new lows, let us in Ohio embrace our diversity so that all can flourish,” the release said.

George Needham, director of the Delaware County District Library, chose to cancel the event there after seeing hostile messages that appeared to threaten the library staff, patrons and the teens. It was rescheduled for this week at a bookstore.

The Newark Ohio Pride Coalition noted that no public money was being used for its event and that the makeup tutorial was optional with the primary focus of the program being to allow "our local teenagers to celebrate their identities.”