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Paul Kengor: You fund 'Drag Queen Story Hour'

| Saturday, March 31, 2018, 8:31 p.m.
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.
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.

A recent viral video featured a New York City drag queen who, in full attire, sat before a group of children in a public library and read them stories.

“Who wants to be a drag queen when they grow up?” asked Lil' Miss Hot Mess , raising a hand, as several preschoolers reflexively lifted their hands in response.

Parents nationwide were aghast. Personally, I was shocked, but I basically figured: Well, there's not much I can do. At least it's not in my backyard.

That's not the case, as the Carnegie Library in Oakland on March 10 once again brought this spectacle to Pittsburgh, hosting “Drag Queen Story Hour,” the same name and brand displayed at that video's New York public library.

“Dance, sing and play during a fabulous event featuring a special guest!” raves the event's ad, giving time, location and other details on the Carnegie website , under a “Family Fun” tab and below a photo of a drag queen in front of very young children. “The story hour will celebrate diversity, promote self-acceptance and gender expression and honor each child as an individual. Dress up in your most fabulous attire and get ready to have fun! Recommended for children birth-grade 5 .”

Yes, those italics were in the ad. “Recommended” for kids — in “fabulous attire”— from infants to fifth grade. Conservatives are derided as paranoiacs for claiming the political-sexual left is targeting their children. Wouldn't this seem to support that fear?

I suspect some liberals will defend this by saying it's a voluntary event — you're not required to bring your children. Correct. But the funding isn't voluntary. This is a public library. Thus, you should at least have a say, because of the paramount reality that these are your tax dollars at work. Indeed, on the library website, under the ad promoting Drag Queen Story Hour, is the Allegheny Regional Asset District's “RAD Works Here” logo.

RAD's apparently at work at the Carnegie Library, which has received literally millions of RAD dollars over the years. It gets your money, directly. And if that money isn't enough, just above the RAD logo on the website (and under the drag-queen photo) is a plea for private donations: “Support the Library, give today.” There's also a “Donate, Advocate, and Volunteer” tab.

The library doesn't seem to lack private funders. There's a long list of corporate and other sponsors on the website, including Eat 'n Park, 84 Lumber, Hefren-Tillotson, UPMC, Highmark, Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation, Levin's, Rivers Casino, Waste Management, Pittsburgh Steelers, Chevron, PPG, PNC, BNY Mellon, Duquesne Light, Huntington and more.

All of which begs the question: Do these organizations and their boards, investors and employees support Drag Queen Story Hour? Do they mind their customers' money going to this? Do Eat 'n Park, 84 Lumber, the Penguins, the Steelers advocate this? Do they know what's going on?

I'd really like to know what Carnegie Library's funders think. And again, those funders include you, Mr. and Mrs. Taxpayer.

Paul Kengor is professor of political science and executive director of The Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College. His books include “A Pope and a President: John Paul II, Ronald Reagan and the Extraordinary Untold Story of the 20th Century.”

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