‘Drag Queen Story Time’ debate in Kelowna

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‘Drag Queen Story Time’ debate in Kelowna
‘Drag Queen Story Time’ debate in Kelowna – Nov 15, 2019

The Okanagan Regional Library is set to hold its second Drag Queen Story Time event on Saturday at Kelowna’s downtown branch.

So it’s always been on my radar,” Youth Services Librarian Ashley Machum said. “It’s something that’s been happening in libraries across Canada and internationally and the timing worked out. I met Miss Freida Whales and we started planning.”

Proponents of the idea say Drag Queen Story Time is a fun program that supports diversity in the way children may dress and act.

“I’m more of a fun character, like a clown character that’s reading you a story,” Freida Whales, the drag queen booked for the event said. “It’s more fun when someone is dressed up and more enthusiastic.  It’s the same thing except I’m a female character instead of a male character.”

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Not everyone agrees with the idea.

The CEO of the Okanagan Regional Library, Don Nettleton, sent a memo to the library board, urging it to enact policy to make sure children’s programming is “safe, professional, and deemed acceptable by the bulk of society.”

It read in part:  The announced program, while claiming to be promoting diversity and acceptance will be offensive to a significant segment of our society.

Machum admits she did receive some complaints leading up to and following the last event.

“I would say 20 in the first round vs over 100 positive comments.”

The library board looked to its policy committee for recommendations because only new policy could allow the board to stop events like this.

“The policy committee has decided, as you’ll see in the public agenda, that we’re not recommending any changes to the current policy, and that head librarians have the right to choose content that’s best suited for their communities,” Loyal Wooldridge, policy committee member, said.

The next Okanagan Regional Library Board meeting is November 20th and the board is expected to make a decision then.

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