Support Acceptance and Inclusion: Drag Queen Story Hour at Rye Free Reading Room

Dear Friends and Neighbors -

On February 8, 2020, The Rye Free Reading Room (RFRR) was planning to bring Drag Queen Story Hour (DQSH) to our community.

DSQH participates in events for children in schools, libraries, and bookstores in all areas of the country from big cities to small towns. During the story hour, a drag queen generally reads 3-4 children's books on kindness and acceptance, sings children's songs, and leads children in a craft activity such as making crowns, wands, or paper bag puppets. Face painting and dress-up time are also often part of this experience. Through a fun and fabulous literary experience, DQSH fosters learning and play, encouraging kids to celebrate gender diversity and all kinds of difference, while building confidence in self-expression.

The Director of the RFRR stated in The Rye Record that he thought DSQH would be "a friendly introduction to different identities. That identity piece starts at a young age. Further, we were looking at inclusivity, not sexuality." (Rye Record, January 28, 2020)

Unfortunately, DQSH has been interpreted as threatening by a small but vocal group of citizens, who, in their ignorance, have taken a children's event about gender identity, inclusiveness, and acceptance and conflated it with sexual identity, sex work, and pedophilia. Protests have been occurring behind closed doors - through scripted statements and anonymous petitions.

Under pressure from this group, the RFRR Board of Directors has postponed this event indefinitely.

Please help me in delivering the following message to the RFRR Board:
• We ask the library to consider the message that the postponement sends to the Rye community. We ask the library to immediately reschedule Drag Queen Story Hour at the earliest possible time and provide a public statement about doing so.
• Our children in Rye, especially those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer+ (LGBTQ+) need to see that our community is a welcoming and accepting place. Our children deserve to feel a sense of belonging. Furthermore, the parents, siblings, and friends of LGBTQ+ children need to see that acceptance and inclusion are Rye values.
• There are many families in Rye who recognize the importance of teaching our children the importance of acceptance and inclusion - particularly in these divisive times.
• We are saddened and upset at the undercurrent of homophobia and transphobia this situation has revealed in our community. We stand against hate and fear. THIS IS RYE. THIS IS US. #supportstoryhour #hatehasnohomehere #pRYEde

Thank you for your support.

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