Pittsburgh drag queen story times canceled after threats | TribLIVE.com

Pittsburgh drag queen story times canceled after threats

Megan Guza
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review
Pittsburgh Drag Queen Akasha Lestat Van-Cartier watches kids dance after reading to them during the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh Monthly Drag Queen Story Hour at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh-Allegheny Branch on the North Side on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017.

Two children’s programs in Pittsburgh canceled scheduled drag queen story times over the weekend after unspecified social media threats targeted the program, which is hosted at dozens of libraries nationwide.

The Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh and the main branch of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh canceled their events on Friday and Saturday, respectively. Both cited “circumstances beyond our control” on Facebook pages for each event.

“CLP is proud to join other libraries around the country to offer programming to families that explores diversity and encourages empathy, kindness and understanding,” library officials wrote on Facebook. “We look forward to resuming story hour next season.”

Saturday’s story hour was replaced with activities “that support individuality and self-expression,” according to the page.

Suzanne Thinnes, a spokeswoman for Carnegie Library, said the library staff became aware of a threat posted to social media that alluded to drag queen story time programs.

“While the post doesn’t reference Pittsburgh or the library’s program specifically, we thought it best to err on the side of caution,” Thinnes said.

She said staff at the Children’s Museum alerted library officials to the online threat, and the two organizations discussed the cancellations. A spokesman for the museum said only that their program was canceled due to unforeseen circumstances.

Threats, no matter how vague, Thinnes said, are taken seriously.

A petition, however, that began June 24 on the website Return to Order, directly targeted the library. The site, part of the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property, urged readers to sign the petition calling on the library to cease the program.

The petition said, “Children should not be exposed to such aberrations.” It cited a quote from the American College of Pediatricians – a group that does not represent pediatricians nationwide.

The American Academy of Pediatrics, rather, is the professional association for pediatricians in the United States. Hate-group watchdog website Southern Poverty Law Center lists the American College of Pediatricians as “a fringe anti-LGBT hate group that masquerades as the premier U.S. association of pediatricians to push anti-LGBT junk science … “

The program was designed to promote respect, diversity and challenge gender stereotypes. It was modeled after the original Drag Queen Story Hour that started in San Francisco in 2014.

Megan Guza is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Megan at 412-380-8519, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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