The Greenville County Library System has settled a lawsuit filed by a former librarian who said he was fired for facilitating a Drag Queen Story Hour event in February 2019.
Jonathan Newton received a $30,000 settlement in the wrongful termination suit that he filed earlier this year, according to public records released earlier this month. The South Carolina Insurance Reserve Fund, which provides liability coverage to state and local governments, paid the settlement and more than $7,600 in legal fees on the library’s behalf.
The suit was dismissed on June 3, according to court records.
According to the 18-page lawsuit filed in April, a group named Mom’s Liberal Happy Hour SC had applied for space at the Five Forks branch to host a story hour in which drag queens would read to children — an event that Newton claims the library’s executive director, Beverly James, opposed.
James and Greenville County were named as defendants in the suit.
The story hour eventually did take place despite attempts by James and Greenville County Council to stop it, the suit alleged. Newton claimed he was then forced out of his job of 17 years for “insubordination” and for “defending other people’s civil liberties.”
The suit cited the American Library Association’s code of ethics that libraries should make meeting spaces available to the public “regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of individuals or groups requesting their use.”
The lawsuit was filed “to inform the people of Greenville County about the quiet heroics of a simple librarian” and requested that Newton be compensated for loss of employment, wages and benefits.