Drag queens teach tolerance at local libraries

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PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — In an effort to promote diversity, the Multnomah County Library is bringing some unique guests to read to kids in the coming weeks. 

Drag Queen Storytime kicked off this month with Poison Waters reading and dancing with kids at the Belmont Library.

“Those storytimes will cover books that include a range of themes around tolerance, inclusion, self-esteem, loving yourself, acceptance — messages that are really affirming for everyone in the community,” library spokesperson Shawn Cunningham said. 

Youth librarian Jeanie Diaz said these kid-friendly drag events are part of a growing trend across the country. It’s been a hit in cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles already.

“Here at the library we are committed to equity and inclusion,” Diaz said. 

This series follows other specialty storytime events already underway, including some designed for kids with autism and focusing on African-American heritage. 

“We work really hard to design programs that are responsive to the communities we serve,” Cunningham said. 

The next reading, with Meesha Peru, will feature stories in English and Spanish and will reflect themes of self-esteem and tolerance. 

“We are going to have a fabulous dance party, there will be a chance for kids to take pictures with the drag queens,” she said. “We are going to have a fabulous time just celebrating who we are.”

There have been some negative responses on social media, but Cunningham said that’s to be expected. He said there are diverse points of view, but the response has been overwhelmingly positive. 

“We know certainly this isn’t a program that everyone will want to attend — that’s fine,” he said. “The library hosts hundreds of programs every month, so we hope there is something available for everybody in our community.”

The next reading will be at the Holgate Library on Saturday at 2 p.m. 

More Multnomah County Library storytimes 

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