(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) -- Staff at the St. Joseph Public Libraries have received plenty of feedback, both positive and negative, regarding their decision to offer a program titled Drag Queen Story Hour.
"I agree that we are pushing the envelope but we need to," said library director Mary Beth Revels.
Revels said it's important that the library provide programs that highlight diversity among people.
"The LGBT community are taxpayers," she said. "We're providing a programming a program for our LGBT community. It's also an affirming program."
Revels said the Drag Queen Story Hour will be the latest program in a series called "Celebrating all of us," designed for families with children between the ages of 3-8.
Previous reading programs in the series highlighted American Sign Language and another on children with Downs Syndrome.
"It's a window to show people a different culture and see people who are a little different than themselves" Revels said.
Drag Queen Story Hour has been offered at several other libraries across the nation.
"For little kids, what they're going to see is a beautiful woman who is reading two books to them then dancing," Revels said.
Social media reaction to news of the program has been swift. There are petitions circulating online both in support and against Drag Queen Story Hour.
St. Joseph city councilman Brian Myers created the petition in support of the effort.
"While I do respect that some people might be against this because they feel it's a moral issue," he said. "At the end of the day if you disagree with something happening in a public space, you have the choice of not taking your children."
Romeo Huff-Garza will be reading to the kids at Drag Queen Story Hour. The married father of a 20-month-old son has been performing drag as Vivian Versace for the last eight years.
"I just explaiin it that it's not a way of life, it's just a hobby," Huff-Garza said. "I just do it for fun or for extra money. It's like painting or playing a sport."
As a father, Huff-Garza says he's sensitive to the audience he'll be in front of at story time.
"Sure, drag queens can dress provacive way but just like if you were going to a job interview or working at your job you probably want to be more professional," he said.
Huff says he's already facing some criticism about participating in Drag Queen Story Hour. However, he says the support he's received has been stronger.
"I think it's important that kids know that there's not just one kind of person out there in the world," he said. "There's all types and kinds of people and that's what makes the world go round."
KQ2 News reached out multiple times to the creator of the petition opposing the Drag Queen Story Hour. However, we did not get a response.
However, some of the comments included: "...children don't need this," "...absolutely disappointing and disgusting," and "I do not want my tax dollars used in this way."
As of 11 p.m. Monday night, Myers petition in support of Drag Queen Story Hour had 1,350 signatures. The petition to stop the program had 670 names on it.
The Drag Queen Story Hour will be at the downtown library Tuesday, September 10th at 6 p.m.
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