Controversy and protests continue 

“Part of being a librarian means you believe in intellectual freedom,” Elizabeth Sargent, assistant director for the library’s customer experience, told Mikati. “For us it’s really a First Amendment right.”

Houston—Inside the library, the storytellers sang songs and mimicked the noises of crickets and rainfall while reading The Armadillo’s Dream, a picture book written by Dennis Arrowsmith, touring programs manager for the Houston Grand Opera. 

 

Outside the library, two groups faced each other behind sets of barricades. Rainbow flags wrapped around one set, inside of which activists for the LGBTQ community held up signs of support and blasted pop music while welcoming families attending story hour. Across the street was the other set, behind which protestors against the Drag Queen Story Hour stood with their own signs. 

 

According to Massarah Mikati of the Beaumont Enterprise, the protests outside the Freed-Montrose Neighborhood Library in Houston last Saturday, January 26, were organized by Tex Christopher, who has sued Houston’s mayor and the chief librarian over the program. Christopher contends that a program where drag queens read books at the Montrose library violated the freedom of religion of library patrons, and said that professing LGBTQ identity is a form of faith itself. 

 

In court documents filed in the case of Christopher v. Lawson, Christopher and other plaintiffs argued that drag queens and transgender storytellers would indoctrinate children to believe in another religion, which the suit identifies as Secular Humanism. The activists believe the storytellers would groom children at the event to become transgender. 

 

“I don’t have anything against the LGBT, I love them,” Christopher told Mikati. “These people have rights, but their rights end where the children’s rights begin.” 

 

In October, a federal judge in Houston rejected their request for an injunction to halt the controversial story time, saying there is no basis to support the request. 

 

But for those attending and organizing the event, it’s simply about literacy and tolerance. 

 

“Part of being a librarian means you believe in intellectual freedom,” Elizabeth Sargent, assistant director for the library’s customer experience, told Mikati. “For us it’s really a First Amendment right.” 

 

Kinnon Falk attended Saturday’s reading with his 6-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son. “We want to expose our children to the diversity of our world and teach them that you can express yourself in many different ways, despite what people may say,” he said. When his kids saw the protestors outside, he said he explained to them that “there are people who don’t agree with the way we see the world.” 

 

Meanwhile, according to Joey Guerra of the Houston Chronicle, the Drag Queen Story Hour, which was launched in 2017 by the pop group Space Kiddettes, is such a popular event that the library is adding a second story time. The monthly event will now host a story time at 2 p.m. and another at 2:45 p.m. 

 

Earlier this month, Chief U.S. District Judge Lee H. Rosenthal issued a final ruling in Christopher’s suit, granting the City of Houston’s request to terminate the case. According to John Council, writing for Texas Lawyer, Rosenthal concluded that the plaintiffs did not have standing to file the case because they could not prove they had been injured by Drag Queen Story Hour. Eric B. Dick, a Houston attorney who represents Christopher in the case, said the plaintiffs will likely appeal Rosenthal’s decision. 

 

Drag Queen Story Hour is scheduled throughout 2019.