Victory over Houston’s “Drag Queen Story Time” is at hand. The series has been canceled for the remainder of the year.
The program, which subjects young toddlers to story hours by men dressed as women, took place in Houston’s Freed-Montrose Neighborhood Library. It was supposed to move less than one mile away in at Kindred Church, described by the event’s organizers as “a church in Montrose known for its support for the LGBT+ community.”1 Until March 22, 2019, information about the change in venue was readily available on the library’s web site.
March 22 was the day that the organizers said they gave up. Next/Now/Next quoted their self-justifications: “People are being threatened. People are being hurt. We believe in what we’re doing, but we don’t believe in putting our friends, our families, or our children in danger.”
Of course, no one was ever endangered by the opposition to the story hours since all protests were peaceful and legal. However, the innocence of poor children certainly was endangered. And even the safety of children was threatened since one of the storytellers was a convicted pedophile acting illegally.
The Motives of the Organizers
Until the cancellation, the library web site made this perverse public display sound like an afternoon of innocent family fun: “Join the Houston Public Library and local Drag Queens for an imaginative storytelling experience. Picture books and songs shared by vibrant performers will excite and instill a love for reading for the entire family. Space is limited. Preference will be given to families with children.”
The national “Drag Queen Story Hour” web site describes the goals of the event slightly more honestly:
Drag Queen Story Hour (DQSH) is just what it sounds like—drag queens reading stories to children in libraries, schools, and bookstores. 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.
The program is staunchly supported by the American Library Association (ALA). The ALA web page carries the statement:
Many libraries across the country have been hosting or participating in Drag Queen Story Hours. A few have experienced pushback from some members of their community… ALA, through its actions and those of its members, is instrumental in creating a more equitable, diverse, and inclusive society. This includes a commitment to combating marginalization and underrepresentation within the communities served by libraries through increased understanding of the effects of historical exclusion.
On the same web page is a list of “resources” that the ALA has provided for libraries that want to host such events. Among them is an article from Children and Libraries, entitled, “Far From a Drag: How One Library Embraced Drag Queen Story Hour.”
The first DQSH happened in San Francisco and developed a nationwide following. The organizers claim twenty-four chapters from New York to California, Alabama to Vermont.
The Houston event began in 2017 with the support of the Houston City Council.2 It was a regular part of the Freed-Montrose Library’s program from September 2017 to February 2019. At first, the monthly event attracted little notice. Its organizers, Trent Lira and Devin Will, described it in Houstonia magazine, “mostly, people didn’t know we existed. Our average attendance at the Freed-Montrose Library was about five children.” That changed in July 2018, when KHOU broadcast a positive review of a DQSH event at another branch of the Houston Library.
Tradition, Family, Property—Louisiana organized public protests on August 25 and September 29. The City Council pretended to ignore them. Of the Council members, only Michael Kubosh showed any concern for the moral interests of the children. The pro-family organization Mass Resistance quoted Council Member Ellen Cohen, “The people that you need to be worried about attacking your children or sexually assaulting your children are the people next door, the ministers, and the religious leaders.”
Mayor Sylvester Turner tried to placate the concerned citizens, “This is strictly a volunteer program. There are no city tax dollars that are being invested in this program.” The mayor appears to have forgotten that the library is maintained and staffed using tax dollars.
The change of venue described above happened only after the revelation that one of the “performers,” Alberto Garza, had been convicted for sexually abusing an eight-year-old boy in 2008. He was promptly arrested for violating the terms of his parole. In covering the arrest, KHOU reported that the Library system admitted not screening the program’s participants, relying on the assurances of DQSH organizers that all performers had been cleared.
In Houstonia magazine, the DQSH organizers claimed that the decision to move was caused when a protester legally carrying a concealed weapon came to the January event. In typically self-serving language, it went on:
This is when we decided, along with the team from HPL, that it would be best to temporarily move the story time out of the Freed-Montrose. Our priority was providing a safe and enjoyable experience for the parents and children who attended; the priority of those opposed to the story time was that we didn’t hold the event in a municipal building.
The left is howling.
The Houston Chronicle amplified the weeping of the organizers saying that “Parents chose to take their kids because it was child-appropriate and fun.… Some people might never be able to understand it, and they have every right to protest peacefully. Many more are able to appreciate that everyone wants to feel welcome and safe when they’re trying to give back to their communities.”
Friendly Atheist sobbed, “And so that program will end. A program that involved reading to children and showing them that being different didn’t mean there was something wrong with you was demonized by conservatives who demand everyone fit into their tiny boxes. With their misdirected anger and hyperbolic rage, they ended a perfectly fine program.”
While officials say the program is over, vigilance is still needed in light of that victory. An Associated Press article reports Jasper Scherer saying that the Houston Public Library intends to bring the event back this summer.
On March 26, 2019, the Houston City Council held a public hearing on the subject after their regular meeting. No speaker favored the story hours. TFP-Louisiana member Evan Olwell told the council that, “much worse than damage or harm to the body is damage to the soul. And these children in their innocence [are] going through something as twisted as the Drag Queen Story Hour which can corrupt them and really confuse them.”3 Perhaps Council Member Greg Travis put it most succinctly when he said, “I don’t know why we are doing Drag Queen Story Hour.” Council Member Steve Le backed up his colleague, “We need someone in a role model position reading to children.”
Role models are just what the organizers of the DQSH have in mind. They want young children to admire these people, and come to look at their perverse behavior as merely another acceptable style of life. The left is trying to make homosexuality, transsexuality and other such behaviors appear natural and healthy. They paint their opponents as evil people who are trying to impose their will on others, even as they work to impose their lifestyle on the community at large.
The national media are not eager to take up stories such as this. Perhaps the Houston officials have canceled DQSH’s until they scrape the egg off of their faces.
This battle has been won for now, but there will be others. DQSH organizers have no intention to let it end here. TFP-Louisiana and its supporters are firmly resolved to meet this threat whenever and wherever it shows itself.
- Kindred’s web site describes it as “a ministry of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and we are a ‘Reconciling in Christ’ community (a formal way of saying that people of all races, genders, gender identities, abilities, sexual orientations, fashion sense, and political leanings are not only welcome, but embraced).”
- Interested readers can view Mr. Olwell’s complete statement over the Internet at //houstontx.swagit.com/play/03262019-2290. Choose “Public Speakers (Part 1 of 2). His statement begins at 53:26 in the recording.