As the "Drag Queen Story Hour" for children holds more events at public-funded libraries across the country, it's beginning to experience growing pushback from communities, particularly in the South.
The reading sessions at public libraries feature men dressed as women presenting "gender fluidity"-focused stories and commentary for the express purpose of providing "positive and unabashedly queer role models" to children.
"Drag Queen Story Hour (DQSH) is just what it sounds like—drag queens reading stories to children in libraries, schools, and bookstores," the organization's website explains. "DQSH captures the imagination and play of the gender fluidity of childhood and gives kids glamorous, positive, and unabashedly queer role models. In spaces like this, kids are able to see people who defy rigid gender restrictions and imagine a world where people can present as they wish, where dress up is real."
While the Associated Press suggests the story hours have been generally accepted in big cities, including LA, Chicago, New York and New Orleans, in "smaller communities," the gender fluidity children's programs have "sparked protests from conservative and religious groups."
AP reports that the president of the local public library board in Lafayette, Louisiana recently resigned amid the debates over the planned October 6 drag queen children's hour, while the Lafayette mayor has signaled that he might cancel the event. In Columbus, Georgia, protesters gathered outside the library to express their disapproval of the event.
A group based in Mobile, Alabama is also pushing back, planning protests over a September 8 children's event. AP notes that at that event "drag queen Khloe Kash is scheduled to read 'Rainbow Fish,' a 1992 story about the value of sharing, and 'Stella Brings the Family,' about a little girl fretting over what to do about her school's upcoming Mother's Day celebration because she has two fathers."
"The program is designed to purposely target children so as to make sexual perversion acceptable through repeated exposure," Mobile-based Common Sense Campaign Tea Party wrote on its Facebook page.
AL.com has also reported on the growing pushback from religious leaders:
Below are some of the drag group's Facebook posts promoting its Drag Queen Story Hour for children: