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Moral Campaign Group Backs Aggressive Protest by Anti-Vax Activists at UK Drag Queen Story Hour

From the website of the Family Education Trust:

On Tuesday 26th July, FET was asked to comment on a story about a group of parents and others protesting against the launch of Drag Queen Story Hour at a library in Reading. The event was also targeted by pro LGBTQ+ activists who were supporting the drag queen performer Sab Samuel, who performs as Aida H Dee. Our full response to the protests was given to the Telegraph by Senior Researcher Piers Shepherd:

“The arrival of Drag Queen Hour at local libraries across the country has stoked considerable anger among parents and others concerned about the safety of children….

Given the disregard that many libraries are showing for concerns about the potential sexualisation of children, it was inevitable that some might choose to launch in-person protests at the venues where these events are taking place. As seen in Reading, the council responded to these in a disproportionate manner, getting police to bring a riot van to the scene…

It is a matter of concern that police resources will be used in this way when there are so many pressing problems in need of their attention. The simple solution to this problem is for councils to call off the grossly age-inappropriate Drag Queen Story Hour and restore the local library to its proper place as a family friendly environment where parents can take their children without fear that they will be exposed to inappropriate material.”

The Telegraph‘s article about the protest can be seen here (it is also reposted on the FET website, flowing on from the statement); it looks like the journalist noticed Tweets with video clips posted by @CovidRadicals and asked FET for a quote as a substitute for digging further into who the protestors actually were. The paper covered FET’s objections ahead of the event, as did GB News.

However, the write-up does make clear that the protest was aggressive, and it embeds some of @CovidRadicals’ material:

… the first event for families at Reading Borough Council libraries erupted in a dramatic row, as Mr Samuel was given a police escort next to a riot van and demonstrators chanted “paedophile”.

…They were escorted out by police officers and security guards while parents cheered. Rows of dozens of uniformed police officers stood guard outside the library, where a group vowed to perform a “citizen’s arrest” of the drag queen.

…They branded the police officers and council staff, who refused to let them in, as “paedophile protectors” and brandished banners and megaphones.

The embedded information, which the Telegraph could have expanded on, is as follows:

They’ve made a sign using the colours of a rainbow, saying “Welcome Groomers”. Michael Chaves berates police even more telling them that they’re likely to go on to be sex offenders themselves [here]… #SovereignCitizens attempt to enter a library to arrest a Drag Queen. [here]

Chaves came to media attention last year with anti-vax protests outside the homes of television presenters (blogged here), and some protestors in the clips are associated with the militaristic Alpha Men Assemble and with HOPE Sussex, which I recently discussed here.

Returning to the FET statement, the Telegraph focuses on Shepherd’s suggestion that the police ought not to have protected the event, and this quote has also been promoted online by Laurence Fox (whose own activist career owes a great deal to disproportionate coverage in Telegraph titles). Last year, Shepherd was quoted as saying that “The law needs to protect the rights of parents to bring up their children in a way that is consistent with their moral or religious beliefs”; apparently this does not apply when parents do not share his objection to drag artists reading stories to children.

The Family Education Trust was founded in 1971 as “The Responsible Society” and until recently was known as Family and Youth Concern. In the past it has been associated with anti sex-education campaigns; in the 1980s the group’s leader Valerie Richies argued that schoolchilden should not be taught about AIDS because it “is not a heterosexual problem”, and her successor Norman Wells lamented in 2012 that vaccination against cervical cancer was leading “some girls” to believe that they can “engage in casual sex without consequence”. Explicit religious rhetoric ownplayed, but the inspirations are obvious. Shepherd appears to be associated with Roman Catholicism.

Last month, McCain Foods withdrew an advert which featured a drag artist using the word “knockers” while creating a food presentation made up of various McCain’s products, including a potato “Smile“. Right-wing opinion-mongers sniffed blood and saw a chance to promote the imported moral panic, arguing that “sexualised drag queens should not advertise children’s food”.

UPDATE: I’ve belatedly seen this from RDG.Today, a local news site for Reading:

In a statement released today [25 July], Aida said: “There is absolutely no sexual language during any of these shows nor are children exposed to sexual situations.

“What is confusing is that these groups are attempting to create a sexual focus here where none exists by drawing attention to sex and sexuality.

“These stories celebrate the diversity found among human beings, and the delivery of these stories is a celebration of communities who have been historically marginalised and have historically had their voices silenced.

“To attempt to silence their voices here as well is regressive and to claim a person’s sole existence is sexual is insulting.”

Certainly, it seems to me that the argument that drag artists are inherently “sexualised adult entertainment” is a recent culture-war attack line, at odds with decades of pre-watershed television programming.

2 Responses

  1. Oohhhh Errrr, Missus!

    Two bites at the cherry!!

    As the panto actoress said to his bishop!!!

    Thank the Lord there are no “aggressive” pro-Trans or anti-TERF protesters.

    Or if there are, their events aren’t “quite a small event, a bit boutiquey”.

    And if they were their “high prtofile” events wouldn’t have “failed to attract any journalistic interest”.

    Halleluja!

    But I think you’ll find there’s a massive difference between a “Drag Queen” and a “pre-watershed” “Panto Dame”!!

    And that drag acts are, by their definition, inherently “sexualised adult entertainment”!!!

  2. I’ve been trying to put my finger on what has happened to this blog and its “recent culture-war attack line”.

    But I just can’t seem to find that elusive spot.

    Maybe it’s an assigned male at birth thing?!

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