Houston's drag queen story hour: KHOU tells us librarians let in a child molester. Who fought this?


I last wrote about drag queens reading stories to kids at public libraries about six weeks ago and now the story has taken off.

Someone –- we are not told who –- did some document digging as part of an ongoing campaign to stop drag queens from being the featured performers in this programs at the Houston Public Library and made an interesting discovery.

KHOU TV, the CBS affiliate in Houston tells us what that was:

HOUSTON — A registered child sex offender has been reading to children at Houston Public Library as part of its Drag Queen Storytime.

A group called Mass Resistance, which has been trying to put an end to the program, contacted KHOU about the child sex offender.

Mass Resistance claims it had been asking the City of Houston for months to disclose information about the drag queens, and when requests went unanswered, they did their own digging and made the shocking link.

The library has been trying to fix this PR disaster ever since.

A media spokesperson for the library confirmed one of the program’s drag queens, Tatiana Mala Nina, is Alberto Garza, a 32-year-old child sex offender. In 2008, he was convicted of assaulting an 8-year-old boy.

“Most parents would not allow that individual to sit in this library and be held up as a role model to our children. Shame on you, Mayor (Sylvester) Turner!” said Tracy Shannon with Mass Resistance.

In a statement, the Houston Public Library admits they didn’t do a background check on Garza and said Garza will not be involved in any future library programs.

Now, if you know anything about the power of the large and very active churches in Houston, and the history of gay-rights battles in Houston, there is an obvious question that needs to be asked: Does this story have a religion angle? We will come back to that.

A photo of Garza in drag appears with this blog post. Despite this hiccup, the American Library Association isn’t dropping the idea of drag queen stories any time soon. See the ALA site’s resource page for libraries facing “challenges” with staging these events.

As this NBC-TV story points out, these story hours bring “pride and glamor” to libraries and have spread like wildfire across the nation in three short years. As the Brooklyn (N.Y.) library system says on its website: “Drag Queen Story Hour captures the imagination and play of the gender fluidity in childhood and gives kids glamorous, positive, and unabashedly queer role models.”

Here’s an Associated Press video of a drag queen at this same library announcing to kids that, “Who wants to be a drag queen when they grow up?” and “We can both be grooms.” The narrator mentions that there are opponents — but doesn’t interview any. That’s a journalism problem.

The drag queen herself is allowed to characterize the opposition as “irrelevant” with no pushback from the reporter. That’s a journalism problem, too.

Can you see why some parents — who don’t buy that line on gender fluidity -- might have a problem with that? We’re talking about an ideology getting fostered here, not just the reading of fairytales.

The San Francisco Chronicle described in 2016 how the trend started in the city’s historically gay Castro district. The way this was probably sold to other libraries is that the drag queens are the modern equivalent of clowns and clowns don’t necessarily have a gender, do they?

I am guessing the Houston library messed up on this probably because the “queens” are considered guest speakers and as such, aren’t subject to employee background checks.

massresist.jpg

So who are these folks with Mass Resistance and related groups?

Look at their Facebook page and peruse the comments and it’s clear most of these folks are evangelical Protestants. That’s no surprise in Houston.

So is there a religion story in there somewhere?

If so, no reporter has bothered to find it. Do they think Mass Resistance and its ilk are conservative activist wannabes who aren’t worth a second look? If this were, say, a group of Muslims, wouldn’t someone have profiled them by now?

With evangelicals, familiarity does breed contempt. There are faith elements to be found with anti-drag queen groups, such as this piece in onenewsnow.com:

It's called "Drag Queen Story Hour" and it's taking place at public libraries across the U.S. One man – a pastor – is doing what he can to shut them down.

It's just like it sounds, says the website promoting the story hours – and it "captures the imagination and play of the gender fluidity of childhood and gives kids glamorous, positive, and unabashedly queer role models." In essence, crossdressing men sit in front of a bunch of preschoolers and read them books about a king and a king, or how Heather has two mommies…

Pastor Rich Penkoski wants to stop the burgeoning trend before it takes root. "They are turning these kids into sexual objects," he tells OneNewsNow. "And as a parent of six children, as a Christian, how could one stand by, watch this, and not do something?"

Penkoski wants to shut down every drag queen story hour across the country. He's starting in the conservative South. Last weekend he and some other concerned Christians protested and stopped their third drag queen story hour – this one at the public library in Mobile, Alabama. It has since been moved to a private location.

Still, much of the public likes the “queens” and imputes all sorts of bad motives to those who don’t share that enthusiasm.

So what is this fight about? Here’s a video of a drag queen (not in costume) talking about how hateful his opponents are. What’s a little weird is that he mentions twice (near the 2:30-minute mark) about how appearances like his are part of the “grooming of the next generation.” The wording is creepy, no matter who uses it.

I’m looking for writers who will interview folks other than the colorful drag queens to learn what’s behind the pushback instead of allowing the librarians and the “queens” to call the shots on how all this should be covered. Is the opposition just white folks? The second speaker in the video atop this page looks Latina to me.

Is this something that just churches are involved in? If so, how? Does any faith have something to say about gender bending; that is, other than Deuteronomy 22:5?

The bottom line: Too often, reporters let events shape their reporting instead of getting behind the events to find out who sparked what. Is the trend that started in a library near the Castro district simply a fun way to change how kids hear stories in public libraries across the nation or is there a point of view being pushed alongside it?

As tmatt asked here, what would happen if public libraries were asked to schedule events promoting classical Christian literature or apologetics? Would they ever allow it, even in the name of serving Christian schools or home-schooled kids?

Who was it at the ALA who got behind this trend early on? Someone did, as public libraries don’t ordinarily have drag queen contact information on their Rolodexes. Most stories I’ve read said the public asked to have these folks show up. Well, how did “the public” hear about it?

So many questions to ask. So few journalists are asking them.

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