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Drag Queens at the St. Paul Public Library. Too provocative for kids?

Do we really have to ask if having drag queens read to, and dance with, the kids at summer reading hour is too provocative?

The Star Tribune reported today:

“A drag storyteller isn’t different from an everyday storyteller,” said Chad Kampe, 36, founder of Flip Phone. “They are just dressed a little bit differently.”

At Riverview, Anna Smithberger, 28, the library’s children’s specialist, had expected a smaller turnout, but was surprised to see more than 100 families sitting on the checkered carpet, lining the walls and spilling out of the room where the reading was held.

Drag Story Hour, also known as Drag Queen Story Hour, started in San Francisco in 2015 and has hopscotched across the country. Story hours are now held regularly in New York, Chicago and Juneau, Alaska. The books read at the events are on the themes of self-expression, self-acceptance and compassion.

“Stories are inherent to everything we do,” Kampe said. “Having kids be introduced to stories about identity and be who they are is the first step of them realizing that they can be who they want to be and feel accepted.”

But we beg to differ, and appreciate that the Strib included us in the conversation.

While some praise the program, others criticize it as too provocative for young children.

After the St. Paul Public Library announced the reading series on Facebook and Twitter, it quickly received replies, with some on Twitter calling performers “pedo” and saying the program sexualized small children.

“There’s an adult sphere and there’s a sphere for children,” said Kim Crockett, vice president of the think tank Center for the American Experiment. “It is very clear to me that the St. Paul Library has forgotten that.”

In the interview I also expressed concern that this would next show up at our public schools. If the library is OK, why not our K-12 schools? But so far, the contagion seems to be contained in the always “progressive” City of Saint Paul.

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