In Missouri and Tennessee, Republicans are proposing legislation banning Drag Queen Story Hour, because they apparently hate not only LGBTQIA+ people but also happiness. Drag Queen Story Hour began in San Francisco in 2015 and has since spread across the entire globe. It’s basically just what the name describes: drag queens reading stories to kids in libraries, bookstores, and schools. And, because no one knows how to put on a show like a drag queen, these events are an utter delight.
So naturally, conservative politicians see Drag Queen Story Hour as an attack on their values.
Missouri’s proposal, the Parental Oversight of Libraries bill, was introduced last month by Rep. Ben Baker, a minister and a self-described “family values” conservative whose political platform includes “reducing government regulation and bureaucracy.”
Ahhhh yes, “family values”. Because LGBTQ+ people obviously do not have families. Or values.
Baker’s proposal, which he confirmed was in response to Drag Queen Story Hours held in the state, would require all Missouri public libraries to establish parental review boards that would approve library display material and events. Under the bill, librarians who do not comply with parental review board decisions could be found guilty of a misdemeanor, which carries a $500 fine and up to a year in prison.
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Historically, threatening to jail librarians is actually a sign that you have the moral high ground in a given debate. (This is a joke.)
Tennessee followed Missouri’s lead last week by introducing a bill of its own to prohibit Drag Queen Story Hour events at public libraries. The similarly titled Parental Oversight of Public Libraries Act would, like Missouri’s bill, mandate that each library elect a committee that would “determine whether any sexual material provided to the public by the public library is age-inappropriate sexual material.”
Both of these bills are founded upon the classic transphobic idea that non-cisgender presentations of gender identity are inherently sexual, deviant, and inappropriate. By couching this violent bigotry in the language of “family values,” these politicians are implying that children having experiences that normalize and humanize LGBTQ+ people is an attack on the (heterosexual) family structure. The unspoken worry is that seeing LGBTQ+ people as whole human beings could lead these impressionable young children to believe that it’s okay for them not to be cisgender or heterosexual.
Queer kids NOT hating themselves? Well, we can’t have that.