A recent trend in the past year has seen multiple instances of drag queens reading to children at public libraries in order to showcase messages of acceptance, self-love, and learning to embrace one’s own identity. 40 out of 50 US states have had at least one such story hour, as they seem to only increase in popularity. However, for one small town, drag queen story time may be in jeopardy.
The city of Lafayette, Louisiana is scheduled to have their first Drag Queen Story Time event at the Lafayette Public Library on October 6th. However, city Mayor-President Joel Robideaux is considering cancelling it.
“I will be asking the library’s board of control to conduct a thorough review of its programming and approval process for taxpayer-funded events,” Robideaux said in an interview with the New Orleans Times-Picayune.
Drag Queens reading to kids is an international phenomenon. But the mayor of Lafayette may cancel Drag Queen Story Time in the city's libraryhttps://t.co/lS6Y9MHsaT pic.twitter.com/XmRKabeATw— NOLA.com (@NOLAnews) August 22, 2018
Despite the mayor’s doubts, 19 out of 20 speakers at a recent Lafayette city council meeting supported the story time, and stand by the message it aims to teach kids.
“We need to learn how to recognize each other, how to see each other’s gifts and talents and flaws and how to meet each other,” said library patron Marie Delahoussaye Diaz. “The story time that’s caused so much controversy is just an opportunity for kids — older kids, younger kids, almost babies — to see each other, to experience something they’ve never seen before and to learn how to relate to it.”
Louisiana mayor isn't OK with drag queens reading books to kids. https://t.co/ZhEACpb2VR— Tristan Baurick (@tristanbaurick) August 24, 2018
The National Coalition Against Censorship has also publicly stated their support of the planned Drag Queen Story Time at the Lafayette Public Library. They said they actively oppose any attempts by government officials to stop the story time. They caught wind of the mayor’s investigation into the program, and seem to think he has nothing but ill will for the event.
“Robideaux is certainly free to express his opinion. But any attempt to use his power to compel the library to cancel programming because he dislikes the viewpoint it expresses puts him at risk of violating the First Amendment,” the NCAC said in a statement. “As a public space, it is crucial that the library be free to host programming that may not appeal to all citizens, but that fosters open discussion and encourages discovery. The beliefs of one individual—or group of individuals—cannot be allowed to undermine the rights of all members of the community to access programming in a public space. This particular programming also helps combat bigotry and stigmatization of LGBTQ youth, whose experiences are traditionally underrepresented or silenced.”
People are not incorrect to associate drag culture with overt sexuality — it’s part of the whole deal — but for the love of Pete, I promise you that the children’s librarians and drag queens of Lafayette are all adults who know what’s appropriate and what isn’t in this situation.— Megan Romer 🌅 (@meganromer) August 22, 2018
In a statement on its own website, the Lafayette Public Library defended the event: “The Drag Queen Story Time will share stories of individuality, openness and acceptance with families seeking an opportunity to show their children that every person is unique and should be treated with equal respect.”
As of now, the event is contentious yet still scheduled to happen.
What do you think? Do you support the story hour, or do you think it’s inappropriate for children? Sound off in the comments down below!