The transgender debate, one of the most hotly contested issues in politics today, has recently come to a head in Austin in the form of “drag queen story hours.” These events, which are held at some of Austin’s public libraries, feature men dressed in heavy makeup and dresses reading stories and socializing with children—most under the age of 5.
The idea of these story hours has become popular in the transgender community across the country. Founded by the New York-based organization Drag Queen Story Hour, the movement has gained steam with events occurring regularly in major cities across the country, including many in Texas.
The organization has stated that its goal is to “capture the imagination and play of the gender fluidity of childhood and gives kids glamorous, positive, and unabashedly queer role models.”
Yet as the idea has gained popularity in progressive circles, many are questioning the ethics of such events. Namely, whether they overexpose children to mature sexual themes and whether it is safe to allow kids to participate in sexualized environments.
A major concern is the number of registered sex offenders that have been exposed as participants in these events.
A recent exposé in Houston revealed that one of the drag queens engaging in story hour at local libraries was a 32-year-old registered sex offender who had been convicted of the assault of an 8-year-old boy.
Austin’s drag queen story hour has been hosted at the children’s center of Austin Central Library on Cesar Chavez Street, where a drag queen named “Miss Kitty Litter” engages children with “stories and songs” as well as “fingerplays” and other nondescript “extension activities.”
Despite the overwhelming evidence that these events overly sexualize children and even frequently bring them into proximity with sex offenders, progressives are celebrating drag queen story hour as a step forward for diversity, inclusion, and “sexual liberty.”
Such events are being held at Austin’s public libraries and are thus funded by taxpayer dollars. In a city where taxes are on the rise and issues like affordability, infrastructure, and homelessness would benefit from immediate attention, many are wondering whether using public funds for these events is fiscally responsible, regardless of personal ethics.
Fortunately, many Austinites have voiced their opposition to these events, and some have decided to take their concerns to Austin City Council. A group of these citizens testified in front of the council on August 8 to present evidence for and advocate towards the abolition of these story hours in the city.
“When we give children drag queens as role models, are we not setting the bar too low? Are there not better role models?” said a young man in opposition.
“The city should adopt language governing children’s programs at the library, restricting adult entertainers and content reflective of adult sexuality or sexual orientation,” another said—which was met with both applause and jeers from those watching the proceedings.
Between concerns of children’s safety from registered sex offenders and poor prioritization of taxpayer dollars, time will tell as to whether the city of Austin will decide if the sexualization of children is the best way to continue allocating their time and resources.