Hitchin Library drag event divides opinion after online outrage

PUBLISHED: 12:56 27 February 2020 | UPDATED: 10:42 28 February 2020

Drag Queen Storytime is scheduled for Hitchin Library next month. Picture: Hitchin Library/Facebook

Drag Queen Storytime is scheduled for Hitchin Library next month. Picture: Hitchin Library/Facebook

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An event that will see a drag queen tell stories to young people at Hitchin Library next month has prompted heavy criticism from some online.

Drag Queen Storytime, which originated in San Francisco in 2015, has seen drag queens - usually men dressed in drag and makeup - reading to young people in libraries across the country.

A sold out event, aimed at children aged 3 to 11 has been arranged for Hitchin Library for March, 21, where Ruby Violet will "share stories and songs of inclusivity and love" according to an event listing on the county council's website.

But not everyone has been convinced by this event being labelled as a "family friendly" occasion.

Commenting on Twitter, Maya Forstater said: "Drag is a sexualised form of adult entertainment and a parody of feminine stereotypes.

Hitchin Library has been at the centre of a public outcry after drag queen Ruby Violet was invited to tell stories to children. Picture: Danny LooHitchin Library has been at the centre of a public outcry after drag queen Ruby Violet was invited to tell stories to children. Picture: Danny Loo

"[Referencing Ruby Violet] This is not appropriate for children."

Another 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.

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In response to a QX magazine interview with Ruby Violet, Hitchin Library said: "This write up pertains to Ruby Violet's performances to an adult audience, which clearly won't form a part of the storytime.

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

A Herts County Council spokeswoman added: "Following the success of Drag Queen Storytimes in other library services nationally, Hertfordshire Library Service received numerous requests from families to run similar events.

"Before booking this session, we did of course seek feedback from another library service that had hosted a similar event.

"Feedback 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.

"The Library Service frequently welcomes outside speakers, performers or authors to host events at libraries across the county and there are clear policies and procedures in place to ensure that these events are safe and enjoyable for our customers.

"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."

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