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Libraries Offering 'Drag Queen Story Hour' to Teach Children about Homosexuality, 'Gender Fluidity'

( [email protected] ) May 22, 2017 12:36 PM EDT
A public library in New York is offering "Drag Queen Story Hour", bringing in drag queens to read children's books about homosexuality, gender identity and "non-conformity," and "general youth discomfort."
"Harmonica Sunbeam" speaks to children at the Hudson Park branch of the New York Public Library. Amy Lombard for The New York Times

A public library in New York is offering "Drag Queen Story Hour", bringing in drag queens to read children's books about homosexuality, gender identity and "non-conformity," and "general youth discomfort."

The Brooklyn Public Library in Park Slope has reportedly been offering "Drag Queen Story Hour" (DQSH) since the fall: "DQSH captures the imagination and play of the gender fluidity of childhood and gives kids glamorous, positive, and unabashedly queer role models," the website for the effort reads.

Over the weekend, a man who dresses as a woman and identifies as "Lil Hot Mess" appeared at the Brooklyn Public Library in a silver sequin dress covered with rainbow stickers. He read the book "Worm Loves Worm"-a story about "marriage equality"-to the group of children and their parents, according to The Blaze.

Following the reading, he led the children in a song and dance, singing, "The hips on the drag queen go swish, swish, swish" and "The heels on the drag queen go higher, higher."

Meanwhile, at the Hudson Park branch of the New York Public Library in Greenwich Village, a drag queen who call himself "Harmonica Sunbeam" read aloud from "Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress" by Christine Baldacchino.

According to the New York Times, the book is about a boy who wore a beloved dress to school every day. At one point, Morris's friends inform him that he isn't allowed to play on their imaginary spaceship, because "astronauts can't wear dresses."

"Harmonica Sunbeam" also read a few more books to the children, including "It's Okay to be Different" by Todd Parr, a book addressing themes of diversity and gender expression.

Drag Queen Story Hour is the brainchild of the writer Michelle Tea and Radar Productions, and began in San Francisco in December 2015 and spread to Brooklyn last summer.

Rachel Aimee, the Drag Queen Story Hour coordinator for New York, explained that children have a "much more fluid understanding of gender than most adults do."

"Children love dressing up and being imaginative in what they wear," she told the Times. "They see drag queens as people who are doing the same thing, expressing themselves creatively and having fun with it."

Eva Shapiro, the early literacy coordinator for the New York Public Library, said that so far, "everyone has been thrilled" with the program.

Online, however, the respone wasn't quite as enthusiastic.  

"Wickedness never was happiness! This is just creepy! Amazing that some parents would seek to indoctrinate their tots in such destructive ways!" wrote one commenter.

"Why on earth would you expose impressionable minds to someone who is obviously mentally confused?" another asked. "We should be reinforcing gender identity and not adding to the chaos of this very mixed-up world. You are either born male or female; there is no gray area."

"You have got to be kidding me. You can't talk about Jesus, but you can teach from the Koran and now this garbage, which a majority of American families are against!" a third wrote.

On its website, DQSH promises that through the program, "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."

Tags : Drag Queen Story Hour, DQSH, drag queen, gender fluidity, Homosexuality, gender expression