Scottish library's drag queen story event for young children sparks online backlash
A row has erupted over a scheduled appearance by a drag queen at a children’s event in Elgin Library.
The “drag queen story time” is being marketed for youngsters “aged 0-6” and involves a show by “Miss Lossie Mouth”.
Moray Council said the event was aimed at encouraging children to develop a love of reading through imaginative story time, while promoting inclusion, diversity and acceptance. But the initiative has been heavily criticised online, with many social media posts describing it as “inappropriate”.
“Somebody actually thought this was a good idea?” one questioned.
Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross, who is the local MP and MSP, said: “It’s totally inappropriate to hold a show like this for kids under the age of six.
"Story time for babies and young kids shouldn’t focus on gender or sexual identity. That is common sense and on behalf of constituents who’ve contacted me, I’ve raised this with the council.”
Mr Ross came under fire in the wake of his intervention, however, with Green MSP Ross Greer saying to the Tory leader: “You really are a nasty little bigot. Presumably you've never taken your kids to the panto?”
The local authority’s post on Twitter about the event on Monday has been viewed more than 570,000 times.
Elgin City North councillor Jérémie Fernandes criticised the reaction, saying: “The replies under this tweet are absolutely disgusting.
"One of public libraries’ missions is to promote acceptance, tolerance and open-mindedness. Libraries are a welcoming environment for all. These comments show that we need #Pride more than ever.”
The council’s news release contained a quotation from Miss Lossie Mouth, real name John Campbell.
“As a teacher myself, I appreciate the way to instil a love of reading from an early age is to make it fun,” he said. "That’s exactly what Drag Queen Story Time does with an engaging hour of colourful, joyous stories.
"I can’t wait to read to Moray’s youngest residents and see them enjoying books like ‘And Tango Makes Three’, ‘Zee Zee the Zebra’, and ‘Unicorn NOT Wanted’.”
In December, a Drag Queen Storytime, due to be hosted by performer Miss Peaches at the DCA in Dundee, was cancelled after the organisers said the host had been subjected to abuse and threats.
In the wake of the row, a Moray Council spokeswoman said: “We appreciate and accept that everyone has differing views on drag queens but believe our fun, lively and joyous celebration of reading and self-expression is a suitable way to encourage confidence in our young readers.
"We look forward to singing and reading together while breaking down some of those myths about libraries – it certainly won’t be quiet.”
Sean McNamara, from the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP), said: “As the professional body for library workers, we encourage and support our members to be creative in how they encourage young readers to develop their interests.
"Drag Queen Story Hour has proved to be an extremely popular way of doing just that and has a demonstrably positive effect on children’s reading and engagement and is a valuable way of teaching literacy skills. We wish Moray Libraries all the best for a fun story time.”