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One nation under God, even if you don’t want to be

Aug 29, 2019

By Katelyn Burns

Earlier this summer, a string of libraries across the country were forced to cancel an event called Drag Queen Story Hour, a program in which drag queens are dispatched to schools, libraries, and bookstores to read to children. Obsessive coverage from conservative news outlets throughout this year have sparked vehement religious protests and even outright threats of violence; events were canceled in PittsburghLeander, TexasHouston, and more.

Drag Queen Story Hour is a non-profit organization started by queer San Francisco author and parent Michelle Tea in 2015. Currently, the organization has 42 branches across the U.S. and internationally. While the books the queens read typically focus on themes of diversity and inclusion, one of the organization’s board members, Lil’ Miss Hot Mess, told Vox last year that local library officials and organizers choose which books are read at the events.

Religious conservatives were quick to conflate the readings with so-called “transgender ideology,” claiming that the events are designed to confuse children about gender. In a First Things op-ed in May, the New York Post’s Sohrab Ahmari claimed the Drag Queen Story Hour was so offensive that the government should step in and shut it down — by force, if necessary. Religious conservatives should “fight the culture war with the aim of defeating the enemy and enjoying the spoils in the form of a public square re-ordered to the common good and ultimately the Highest Good,” Ahmari wrote.

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