Libraries across the country have had drag queen story hours for several years, and some have had setbacks in their communities as well as protests. This time the concerns stem from an event in Haddonfield, New Jersey.
The Haddonfield Friends of the Library (FOL) organized a members-only Zoom Drag Queen Story Time as a replacement for traditional book sales due to COVID-19. FOL is a non-profit booster group that raises money for the library but is independent of the library itself.
Although the majority of the community supported it, some community members were concerned that the story hour would “expose children to sex at a young age” or asked if the event would be “a live sex show or just reading children’s books.” without sexual acts being performed, discussed, simulated or referenced in any way. “The Board of Directors of the Haddonfield Public Library held an emergency meeting to discuss the event and issue a public statement confirming that they are“ for the inclusion, diversity and justice of all members of the community ”.
The library takes its community engagement seriously and has a subcommittee of FOL members that focuses on diversity and ensures that everyone is represented. Eric Zino, the director of the Haddonfield Library, repeats this and says, “When you walk into the building and we say we’re there for everyone, but you can’t find the words to say it clearly or you can’t find any representation in the Collection that reflects you, then we may not do our job. “
Ian Morrison, whose drag queen personality is Miss Brittany Lynn, has been selected by the library to host Story Hour. Morrison sees Drag Queen Story Time primarily as a literacy program that helps children “develop a sense of diversity, acceptance and openness”.
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While setbacks to Drag Queen Story Hours may seem minor, they are part of a larger push for anti-trans laws and the rise of anti-LGBTQIA + hate groups. So far, 2021 was the worst year for anti-LGBTQ legislation in recent history. Many bills and laws are aimed at trans youth.
If you want to learn more about Drag Queen Story Hour, organize your own, or find a local chapter, the website has information on all of that and much more. You can also read our annotated episode about it.