Henderson, NV public libraries have presented a new program, part of the Rainbow connection series which supports and celebrates the diversity that exists across individuals and families in the community. 

 

“Diversity Divas: A Drag Queen Storytime is just what it sounds like—drag queens reading stories to children in libraries, schools, and other community spaces. A drag queen reads 3-4 children’s books, sings children’s songs, and leads children in a craft activity such as making crowns, wands, or paper bag puppets, or sometimes other activities like face painting or dress-up time. Through a fun and fabulous literary experience, DQSH celebrates learning and play, encouraging kids to celebrate gender diversity and all kinds of difference, while building confidence in expressing themselves.   “ (DragQueenStoryHour.com/FAQ)

 

The program began as a response to LGBTQ issues pressing especially hard in our country lately. Parents are more accepting of the community and want to instill in their youth that everyone is equal and unique in their own way.  They want to not shelter their children from different types of people and walks of life. 

 

While many in the community have welcomed the program, many are protesting it. Mass Resistance, a group that says they protect the traditional family, school children, and moral foundation of society, are against the program.

 

Brian and JD speak with Chris Davin who works for Equality Nevada, and sheds light on the program. In response to any family who does not want their child subjected to a man dressed in female clothing, Davin had this to say.

 

“Bottom line, don’t bring your kid to the event.”

 

JD and Brian agree wholeheartedly and supports the program. Bottom line, Davin is right. These events are not taking place in schools, but are happening in public libraries that are public access. The events are not required or mandatory, and can be attended or not. The purpose of these events is to not only encourage the understanding and acceptance of a community that is still persecuted, but to also give youth a creative space to learn, play and grow. By integrating people from different walks of life into our public learning systems, everyone involved is given the opportunity to welcome people from worlds they don’t know or perhaps don’t understand. 

 

Many questions are brought up about the program, but one in particular is unsettling. A caller asks if the drag queens go through background checks. First of all, anyone working with children, regardless or race, sex, age, orientation, is background checked. The question in itself is offensive because it implies a worry or fear that the drag queens are sexual predators. A common misconception about drag queens is that the art form is a sexual orientation, often confused with being transgender. Dressing in drag is an expression through theatrical performance and non-sexual. 

 

One caller suggests that the drag queens promote sodomy to children, and that it shouldn’t be brought to their attention. The misconception here is that this program, or people in the LGBTQ community, can be harmful to youth because it’s all about sex. However, since the program is lead by art, the only lesson learned would be self-expression. Drag Queen story time books aren’t about relationships or sexual preference; the events are about art, literature, creativity, and fun. 

 

It’s hard to not compare the current attitude toward the LGBTQ community to the segregation of white and black people in our not so distant history. There was a time when a story time lead by someone of color would have been protested and regarded as unacceptable. Perhaps I am reaching, but persecution of any group based on orientation, gender, or race is truly unacceptable. 

 

What seems to be lacking is understanding and respect for people. For example, a Straight Pride parade was held and compared to the traditional Pride Parade. Rather than lift up and celebrate fellow humans, a group wanted to celebrate a community that has not been persecuted or subjected to ridicule based on who they are. It has always been okay to be straight, but being something else has not always been met with understanding.

 

The true bottom line is just as Davin said; if someone doesn’t want to take their child to these events, they don’t have to. However, if you’d like for your child to learn about the world around them and appreciate all walks of life, it sounds like a fun time!

 

 

 

Rachael Edlow

Privacy Preference Center

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