US: 'Are you a boy or a girl'? Drag Queen Story Hour riles the right, but delights kids

It was the Drag Queen Story Hour at the San Francisco public library and six-year-old James Mendenhall intended to get right to the bottom of things.

“Are you a boy or a girl?” he asked the 6ft 2in story reader, who was wearing a maroon satin gown, a hot pink frock, silver high-heeled pumps and false eyelashes. The drag queen, who goes by the name Honey Mahogany, leaned her delicately-braided blond wig towards him and paused for effect.

“Well, I guess I was born a boy,” she replied. “But I like to dress like a girl. It’s for fun.”

For the 175 or so children and parents who turned out for the event last weekend at San Francisco’s main library, the program – which also runs regularly at libraries in New York City and sporadically in bookstores and classrooms around the country – offers a mix of gay pride and kid-friendly entertainment.

“It’s really fun for the kids to see a princess, dressed up and in makeup,” said library spokeswomen Katherine Jardine, who added the program is a way for children to learn about the city’s diversity.  The story hours have come under fire recently by conservative publications for allegedly using public resources to indoctrinate children with leftist views. 

Attacks have turned up in places such as Breitbart News and as a discussion item in the ultra-religious Rapture Forum. The rightwing Daily Wire ran an article entitled “Leftists push ‘Drag Queen Story Hour’ for public schools, libraries.” But San Francisco’s librarians emphasized that the program, founded in 2015 in San Francisco by writer Michelle Tea, does not use any taxpayer dollars. For each Drag Queen Story Hour, the nonprofit Friends of the Library group – a privately run organization – pays a $250 stipend to the production company that created the event, Radar Productions. Read more via the Guardian