Library's Drag Queen story time triggers online backlash

Ruby Violet will be reading storybooks to children at Hitchin Library

Parents have expressed anger and concern over a Hertfordshire library's plans to host a Drag Queen Story Hour next month. 

Hitchin Library is hosting adult entertainer Ruby Violet on March 21 for a reading session with young children. 

On its website, the library said it was "very excited" to be hosting Violet.  The event, which cost £2 per person, has sold out. 

"This is a wonderful family friendly event which will see Ruby Violet share stories and songs of inclusivity, individuality and love," the library said. 

"As part of this event, there will also be the opportunity for children and their grown-ups to create their own absolutely fabulous crown to take home, as well as the chance to grab a photo with the amazing Ruby Violet." 

But some parents and women's rights campaigners have said that the event is inappropriate for young children.

One Twitter user said: "3-11 year olds do not need to be exposed to sexualised parodies of women."

One comment left on the library's Twitter post read: "What are you asking the kids to accept? Libraries & schools are being played for fools by some very dubious people in an attempt to normalise fetishism and kink, and all you can do is spout mantras like 'inclusivity and acceptance' and hope all the critics shut up and go away." 

Maya Forstater, a researcher who lost her job at a think tank after tweeting that people cannot change their biological sex, said: "Drag is a sexualised form of adult entertainment and a parody of feminine stereotypes...This is not appropriate for children."

Another person on Twitter added: "You cannot bring in an adult entertainer and think that the children won't be curious about exploring online the 'other side' to them." 

READ MORE: Drag queen 'quite clearly' should not have been invited to primary school, says Education Secretary

When challenged on Twitter about the content of Violet's performances for adult audiences, Hitchin Library said that this "clearly won't form a part of the storytime".

"It is exactly that, a storytime of excellent picture books about inclusivity&acceptance, an important message for not only 3-11 year olds but all ages," it said. 

A spokeswoman for Hertfordshire County Council defended the event and said there were "clear policies and procedures in place" to ensure that it is safe for all.

"Following the success of Drag Queen Storytimes in other library services nationally, Hertfordshire Library Service received numerous requests from families to run similar events," she said. 

"Before booking this session, we did, of course, seek feedback from another library service that had hosted a similar event. Feedback about Ruby Violet was very positive – the service confirmed that the performance was age-appropriate, well received by families and that they would be happy to work with her again.

"This event is already proving very popular and tickets are now sold out."

She continued: "In Hertfordshire, we pride ourselves on creating an environment which values equality, diversity and inclusivity, and we endeavour to demonstrate these values to our residents as we work in our local communities every day. This includes in our libraries where we provide a wide range of cultural activities for people of all ages."