KU daycare cancels Drag Queen Story Hour event

Above: “Venus Valhalla” entertains at a Drag Queen Story Hour in Manhattan, NY/Wall Street Journal photo

A Drag Queen Story Hour planned for a University of Kansas daycare was apparently canceled Wednesday night after word spread about the event.

Social media posts made days before promoting a Drag Story Hour featuring readings by Lawrence-area drag performer “Rose” at Hilltop Center for Child Development on the KU campus were removed Wednesday afternoon following a story posted on the Kansas Informer website. That story, linked on KI’s Facebook page, was subsequently removed by Facebook officials for “violating community standards,” as this one is likely to be.

Superheroes like Spiderman are banned from personal effects of students at Hilltop Center for Child Development, which scheduled a drag story hour Wednesday, because management says children tend to have trouble separating fiction from reality./Marvel Comics art

Protesters who showed up at the Hilltop Center Wednesday in advance of the 5:45 p.m. scheduled event told The Informer no one arrived at the facility after the last parents picked up their children around 5:30 p.m. until protesters left the area at 6 p.m. The event was originally scheduled from 5:45 p.m. to 6:15 p.m. at the outdoor theater on the Hilltop playground.

A post on Hilltop’s Facebook and Twitter(X) accounts that promoted the event was removed sometime Wednesday.

Emails sent by the Informer seeking a confirmation on the cancellation to both center director Jeremy Fite and center board president Jaclyn Biggs went unanswered, as did an email to interim director Nikita Haynie of the Center for Sexuality and Gender Diversity, which was to co-sponsor the event.

“We saw the last parents pick up and take off at 5:30,” said Michelle Eagleman, who planned to picket the event. “The last teacher came out about the 5:50.  The playground/patio was deserted. I think they canceled. We left at 6.”

Plans for the event rallied a number of opponents on Wednesday, including chairman of the Higher Education Budget Committee in the Kansas House of Representatives Steven Howe, who said a drag event at a university-associated daycare was an embarrassment.

“This a terrible image for our state’s flagship university,” Howe told the Informer. “Drag Story Hour should not be normalized, especially with vulnerable and impressionable kids.” He said KU’s voting member on Hilltop’s board, which operates the university facility as a 501C3 non-profit, should press for higher standards at the daycare or the university should disassociate from it.

Drag queen story hours aimed at audiences of children at daycares and public libraries have become more  popular in recent years, primarily among liberal white women who promote the embrace of alternate sexual lifestyles by their children as evidence of their stand for tolerance. But opponents like conservative activist and writer Chris Rufo contend the clownish, over-sexualized representations of women pressing relationships with children has a darker intent.

“The drag queen might appear as a comic figure, but he carries an utterly serious message: the deconstruction of sex, the reconstruction of child sexuality, and the subversion of middle-class family life,” Rufo says in an article in City Journal.

Notably, policies at Hilltop appear to acknowledge the impressionable nature of young children and their tendency to emulate concepts to which they are exposed. Hilltop disallows any superhero-type regalia like t-shirts, lunch boxes or toys, saying such influences contribute to violence. However the scheduling of its Drag Story Hour event appeared to have the full support of its management and board.

Dane Hicks is a graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism and the United States Marine Corps Officer Candidate School at Quantico, VA. He is the author of novels "The Skinning Tree" and "A Whisper For Help." As publisher of the Anderson County Review in Garnett, KS., he is a recipient of the Kansas Press Association's Boyd Community Service Award as well as more than 60 awards for excellence in news, editorial and photography.

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