Pushback on Rockford’s Drag Queen Story Hour

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(Photo from Drag Queen Story Hour Facebook page)

(Photo from Drag Queen Story Hour Facebook page)

ROCKFORD — The Rockford Public Library is hosting its first Drag Queen Story Hour as part of the city’s Pride celebrations, but some are objecting.

The Rockford Register-Star reported that local residents objected to the event, and may have been unclear on the concept.

From the Rockford Register-Star:

“A big, hairy man scantily dressed as a woman promoting homosexuality and gender confusion … is inappropriate for this age group,” Sandi Ware of Rockford — parent of two preschoolers — said about the Drag Queen Story Hour that’s for children ages 3 to 8. “Most lead bizarre lives as sex entertainers.”

Amy Newburn of South Beloit, a teacher and ballet instructor who has preteen and teenage children, has similar concerns. “What kind of influence are we trying to push on young minds?” The library is a “public place we want to be able to bring our children into. Now we have to be careful what happens at story hour.”

Paul Logli, president of the library board of trustees, said he and other board members at first were “uncertain about the program,” which is being offered for the first time in Rockford and has been held in venues throughout the nation. Trustees learned in May about the story hour that was scheduled by staff. “The title gets your attention,” he said. “But when staff explained to some of us, many — including myself — became more comfortable,” Logli said.

Emily Klonicki, assistant library director, said books will be read by Cass Marie Domino, an entertainer from Madison, Wisconsin. Domino was featured a year ago for Drag Queen Story Hour at the Beloit, Wisconsin, public library. “The stories are about individuality and being different; an expression of self, not stories about gender identification,” Klonicki said.

The books to be read during the 45-minute story time on June 22 include: “What’s the Difference? Being Different is Amazing,” by Doyin Richards, and “It’s Okay to be Different,” by Todd Parr.

DQSH is nothing new in Illinois with the event being held on a regular basis in Decatur, Peoria and Chicago.

Phyllis Gallisath, president of Rockford PFLAG, told the newspaper that drag is an art form. “You take your children to plays … to enrich them,” she said. The story hour is no different, she said.

The event is part of Pride celebrations in Rockford, which for the first time declared June Pride Month this year.

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