What Drag Queen Story Hour Can Teach All of Us
In 2016, the City of Rye reestablished the Human Rights Commission which has been part of the City Charter dating back to 1963. The mission of the current Commission is to support the pursuit of Social Justice.
We aim to collaborate with public, private, and non-profit organizations for education and outreach to avoid incidents of discrimination and promote a culture of empathy and acceptance. When necessary, the Human Rights Commission will provide an authoritative voice with respect to civil rights and conduct efficient and effective enforcement.
In 2017 an anti-discrimination resolution was brought forward and passed unanimously by the Rye City Council.
“The City of Rye is committed to upholding and protecting the civil and human rights of all individuals regardless of their race, creed, religion, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin or immigration status.
We, the City of Rye, denounce acts of racism, bigotry, xenophobia, religious discrimination, antisemitism and acts of discrimination based on a victim’s gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity.”
Drag Queen Story Hour, a nonprofit organization founded in San Francisco and headquartered in Manhattan, prides itself on offering acceptance-driven literary programming for kids and teens through readings, singalongs and crafts. These activities are led – in this case – by librarian-trained Drag Queens. The program was started in 2015 by author and activist Michelle Tea with the goals to “inspire a love of reading, while teaching deeper lessons on diversity, self-love and an appreciation of others.”.
Teaching our children about diversity and inclusion is vital. As parents, we want to raise accepting and empathetic kids; however, we may approach this goal in different ways depending on our experiences and value system.
We applauded the Rye Free Reading Room when they decided to bring this highly acclaimed and successful program to our community. While it is clear from some of the comments we have heard and read, this program may not align with everyone’s personal values or perspectives. These individuals can choose to not attend.
However, under Federal Law, public libraries cannot discriminate and must provide equal access to all. Therefore, the removal of this program from the calendar is not only upsetting but wrong.
Drag Queen Story Hour is an opportunity for children to be exposed to different forms of beauty and performance. It can also help to dispel stigma and stereotypes that are so often, unfortunately and inaccurately, projected onto LGBTQ youth. The program gives children, their families and caregivers positive role models who break gender stereotypes and encourage children to be exactly who they want to be.
We look forward to the Rye Free Reading Room’s reinstatement of this event.
- The Rye Human Rights Commission