A Montana zoo faces backlash after scheduling a “Drag Queen Story Hour” for Pride month.
ZooMontana in Billings, Montana, has planned the June 22 event, upsetting some in the local community.
“Why are we putting such a contentious issue right in the heart of that area?” the founder of the Montana Family Rights Alliance, Jenna McKinney, said Thursday in a video call.
“This is not appropriate. We really don’t appreciate this in our community and especially at this venue,” she added.
Despite concerns from McKinney and others, ZooMontana’s Director Jeff Ewelt has no plans to cancel the event.
“We have heard from many of you in regard to the 406 Pride Drag Queen Story Hour being held at the Zoo later this month. Let me be clear – ZooMontana prides itself in being inclusive of all living beings. 406 Pride is a respected and valued community asset, one we are proud to support and host at ZooMontana,” the director wrote in a Facebook post on Thursday.
“While personal threats and threats of no longer supporting the Zoo are concerning, we will not let unwarranted fear and hate deter our decision to move forward with this harmless and fun reading event that is held throughout the country. At the end of the day, if your personal agenda does not fit this event, we simply ask that you do not come to the Zoo that day. It would be a shame to never allow your children back to the Zoo because of one simple event. Happy Pride month,” the post added.
The report follows a string of Drag Queen Story Hour events during Pride Month nationwide.
The Daily Wire previously reported that four Colorado elementary schools’ Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion groups joined forces to promote a drag queen story hour earlier this month.
Erie, Colorado’s Meadowlark Elementary School’s Parent, Teacher and Student Association committee announced that its DEI committee would team up with the DEI groups at three other elementary schools in Erie to participate in the town’s first Pride celebration.
“Happy Pride Month! Please join and celebrate with us!!” Meadowlark Elementary’s DEI committee wrote in a June 1 Facebook post, adding that “all are welcomed to join in the celebration.”
In some cases, public outcry against such events has led to recent cancellations. For example, a mayor in North Carolina announced earlier this month that a proposed “Drag Queen Story Hour” event had been called off.
Apex Mayor Jacques Gilbert, a former captain of the Apex Police Department, said in a Facebook message that the event was shut down after he relayed feedback from the community to the festival commission hosting the event.
“Given that this part of the event was not originally presented when the event was proposed, I met with representatives from the organizations hosting the event, the Apex Festival Commission, and presented the feedback I have received from citizens,” Gilbert wrote. “Today I was notified that the Apex Festival Commission has taken the feedback into careful consideration and has decided to remove the Drag Queen Story Hour from the event.”
“It continues to be my goal to ensure that all voices in our community are represented,” the mayor told his constituents, adding that he had “received a variety of feedback regarding the Drag Queen Story Hour.”
A “family-friendly” drag event scheduled to take place in Jasper, Indiana, was also recently canceled after the Twitter account Libs of TikTok included it in the “mega thread” of drag events for kids.