New York City Mayor Eric Adams on Thursday defended sending drag queens to public schools and libraries, saying inviting flamboyant impersonators to read to young children promotes “a love of diversity.”
The mayor’s statement came days after the New York Post reported that the city had paid Drag Story Hour NYC $207,000 to read books to students at dozens of elementary, middle and high schools since 2018.
“At a time when our LGBTQ+ communities are under increasing attack across the country, we need to use our education system to educate,” Adams said.
“The goal is not just for our children to be academically smart, but also emotionally smart. Drag storytellers, and the libraries and schools that support them, advance a love of diversity , self-expression and literacy that is central to what our city embraces,” he explained.
Among those not a fan is City Council member Vickie Paladino, who said any school in her district “participating in the ‘drag queen’ degeneracy is at risk of losing funding.”
“It’s not ‘hate speech’ to say that drag queens have no place in schools. I make no apologies for that,” Ms Paladino said in a tweet on Thursday.
“The protection of children is my priority. Period. This is why I was elected. And I will continue to be the most transparent and effective board member this district has ever had,” she said.
I’m quoted in that article, and I’ll say it again: Any school in my district that participates in the drag queen’s degeneration risks losing its funding.
Adult drag performers have NO BUSINESS in our schools, and they won’t be in my district. Period. https://t.co/rCKuvYNW0K
— Councilman Vickie Paladino (@VickieforNYC) June 13, 2022
Storytellers include Harmonica Sunbeam, who “read books, sang songs and colored pages from The Dragtivity Book” in April with K-3 students at STAR Academy in Manhattan, the group said on Instagram .
“The Dragtivity Book,” a coloring book with “fun and educational activities,” encourages kids to “find your own drag name” and “circle your pronouns.”
Books on the nonprofit’s reading list include children’s classics like “Where the Wild Things Are” as well as drag-themed books like “The Hips on the Drag Queen Go Swish, Swish , Swish”.
“Our programs are made possible by the New York State Council for the Arts with support from the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature,” the Drag Story Hour NYC website said. “Our programs are supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.”
This year alone, the group said it produced “49 Drag Story Hour programs for 34 public schools and special schools in English, Spanish and Cantonese”.
“In May, we launched Reading with Royalty, our new middle and YA book discussion program for middle and high school students, with discussion questions on five of our favorite middle and [young adult] books,” the organization said.
Among those supporting the program was Democratic Senator Jabari Brisport, who responded to Ms Paladino on Twitter.
“Not during Pride month, ma’am,” Mr Brisport said. “Retweet if you support the critical theory of drag racing in our schools.”