GOP lawmaker wants to make it illegal for drag queens to read to kids at libraries

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Republican Missouri state Rep. Ben Baker is very upset that local libraries are hosting drag queen story hours.

Missouri state Rep. Ben Baker, a Republican serving his first term in the legislature, has filed a bill aimed at prohibiting local libraries from hosting drag queen story hours for kids.

Although the wording of his "Parental Oversight of Public Libraries Act" focuses mostly on "age-inappropriate sexual materials" does not spell out his actual objection, Baker told the Kansas City Star this week that he drafted the bill in response to the drag queen reading events at libraries. If enacted, it would block state aid to any library that did not comply.

"In some places — St. Louis, Kansas City and I think St. [Joseph] — they've had these drag queen story hours and that’s something that I take objection to and I think a lot of parents do," he told the paper. "That's where in a public space, our kids could be exposed to something that's age-inappropriate. That's what I'm trying to tackle."

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Baker did not respond to an inquiry about whether he knew of any studies showing that drag queen story hours are be harmful and whether any kids had taken objection.

In 2015, a group of drag queens in San Francisco began reading books to children in libraries. Their aim was to inspire kids to read and provide "glamorous, positive, and unabashedly queer role models." The idea spread nationally and today children can attend these events in libraries, schools, museums and cultural centers in at least 30 cities.

Baker ran for office claiming to be a vigilant defender of personal liberties and a strong supporter of limited government. "In addition to limiting government, it is important to move decisions and control back to the local level whenever possible," he said on his campaign issues page.

The bill comes as Republican-controlled legislatures are beginning 2020 with a rash of anti-LGBTQ legislation on their dockets. Tennessee lawmakers passed a bill this week to allow adoption agencies to discriminate against LGBTQ people. Florida legislators filed four anti-LGBTQ bills this week, including one that would eliminate local laws barring employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. And in South Dakota and elsewhere, lawmakers are seeking to bar transgender kids from getting gender-transition health care.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.