A leading Kansas LGBT activist said performing background checks on potential sex offenses of a drag queen who reads to young children in public libraries is insulting to the LGBT community and unnecessary because the venue is not one that draws “predators.”
Thomas Witt, director of Equality Kansas, told the Wichita Eagle the notion of checking the backgrounds of drag queens who read to young children is “offensive” to LGBT individuals.
“It’s clear why they’re checking for sex offenses only,” Witt said. “They’re trying to label the LGBT population in this city as sex offenders, which is offensive in and of itself. If that’s what the city wants to do, to try to isolate a certain population, then hey, this is why we’re having an election in November.”
Witt added it is unnecessary to check the volunteer drag queens for sex offenses because it is unlikely anyone would commit a sex crime during a library program.
“These are public presentations in one of the most open and public places in the city of Wichita,” he said. “I doubt very seriously it’s a venue for predators.”
However, concerns about safety at the Drag Queen Story Hour events, promoted by the American Library Association, made headlines recently when pro-family organization Houston MassResistance discovered drag queen Alberto Garza, who uses the name Tatiana Mala-Nina when reading to young children, had been convicted in 2008 of sexually assaulting an eight-year-old boy. The Houston library system had failed to perform a background check on Garza or any of the other drag queens appearing in its programs.
Multnomah County Library in Portland, Oregon, also faced backlash when it was found the library system had quietly removed from social media photos of the Drag Queen Story Hour that took place at one of its libraries during which young children were lying on top of the drag queens and fondling their false breasts.
The Drag Queen Story Hour website states the aim of the event is to present drag queens as “unabashedly queer role models” for young children who can teach them there are “people who defy rigid gender restrictions and imagine a world where people can present as they wish, and where dress-up is real.”
MassResistance also recently released an exposé of Valeri Jinxy Abrego, the drag queen reportedly scheduled to read to young children at a story hour event at the Leander, Texas, public library near Austin. The exposé includes many pornographic photos.
Subsequently, protests flared in Leander, leading the City Council to end library room rentals to the public and require background checks on all presenters to children aged 17 and younger.
In Wichita, however, the proposal to require background checks for past sex offenses for presenters at the city’s libraries was postponed Tuesday.
According to the Eagle, the policy was proposed following backlash after a Drag Queen Story Hour event in the Advanced Learning Library last year.
The report continued:
It was apparent from the comments at Tuesday’s meeting that there is strong consensus on the library board that prospective program presenters should be screened through a national web site listing sex offenders. But that consensus broke down over the issue of how much discretion the staff should have in allowing past sex offenders to participate in library presentations.
Board Chairman Kevin McWhorter motioned to have the proposed policy sent back to the operations committee for revision.
However, board member Lamont Anderson Sr. said the proposal would cover background checks on offenses such as rape, sexual assault, sodomy, solicitation of prostitution, and lewd and lascivious conduct.
“To me, some of these, they’re just hard noes,” said Anderson. “It’s not someone I would want presenting to my granddaughter. That’s just me being truthful.”
“When you don’t have a locked-down policy at certain times, you sometimes can create a slippery slope where something gets through the cracks,” he added.
Nevertheless, board member Jonathan Winkler said standards for inclusion in the offender registry vary from state to state and that a zero-tolerance policy could end up blocking a gay individual who participated in what was once illegal consensual same-sex behavior.
“We wanted to give staff the flexibility to work around situations like that,” he said, reported the Eagle.
Library Director Cynthia Berner said she and her staff would not allow sex offenders to present to children but added she would consider including a former sex offender in a discussion about the criminal justice system for adults only.
Wichita Transgender and Community Network leader Rexy Que suggested the library board drop the list of sex crimes from the proposal.
“I think by saying sex offenses, it’s pretty clear what we mean, you don’t need to list them,” Que said. “But also, this is only about half of the different sex offenses that are actually in Kansas law . . . I just don’t think it’s necessary. I don’t think it adds anything to the policy.”
Pastor Craig Coffey of Derby advocated strongly for the background checks.
“Numerous incidents are being reported (nationwide) involving inappropriate contact between drag queen story hour participants and innocent children,” he said. “Those of us opposing these types of ill-advised programming policies are not surprised, as we see this as a natural consequence of the LGBTQ agenda as it is directed toward progressive liberal indoctrination of our children.”