Fox news anchor Martha MacCallum, whom the network touts as part of its purported “news”-side team, said “there’s a sexualization element to” Drag Queen Story Hour -- a national program of events in which drag queens read children’s books to kids at libraries, schools, and bookstores to help children “develop empathy, learn about gender diversity and difference, and tap into their own creativity." Her guest also claimed that drag queens and LGBTQ people are trying to “groom” children into an “unhealthy lifestyle,” citing HIV and AIDS.
MacCallum’s segment is just the latest example of right-wing fearmongering about drag queens and children, which tends to subtly wink at myths that LGBTQ people harm young people or that they are sexual predators or pedophiles. Right-wing media and extreme anti-LGBTQ groups have regularly attacked Drag Queen Story Hour as part of this hateful campaign.
Earlier this month, Fox News’ Laura Ingraham dedicated an entire podcast to spreading myths about drag queens and LGBTQ people being dangerous for children and interested in their sexualization. Ingraham and her guest compared Drag Queen Story Hour to NAMBLA and claimed LGBTQ people are interested in “lowering the age of consent.” The next day, Ingraham hosted a segment about Drag Queen Story Hour on her Fox show The Ingraham Angle. Her guest, from the extreme anti-LGBTQ group MassResistance, promoted his group’s book The Health Hazards of Homosexuality and compared the reading events to “porn actor story hour.” The book claims homosexuality is “rooted in perverted practices which defy nature and bring ill health.”
The American Library Association has responded to these attacks by saying that in holding these events, the organization makes itself “instrumental in creating a more equitable, diverse, and inclusive society” and that its efforts involve “a commitment to combating marginalization and underrepresentation within the communities served by libraries through increased understanding of the effects of historical exclusion.”
During the segment, MacCallum questioned whether Drag Queen Story Hour events “aim to indoctrinate and unnecessarily expose children to sexuality,” said drag queens are “very provocative,” and claimed that “there's a sexualization element to it, no matter how tame it is.” Later in the show, Kim Hall from 500 Mom Strong, a group aimed at opposing the events, said drag queens and LGBTQ people “want to groom our children into their unhealthy lifestyle,” which includes “HIV and AIDS.” On its Facebook page, 500 Mom Strong likens drag queens to people in black face and says the organization is a “group of women who have had enough with the sexualization of our children and the mockery of our femininity.”
From the June 24 edition of The Story With Martha MacCallum:
MARTHA MACCALLUM (HOST): The events feature drag queens who sit down, in some cases, but this one is dancing, and read stories to the younger children who are 2 to 5. Supporters say that they teach diversity and acceptance, but opponents say that they aim to indoctrinate and unnecessarily expose children to sexuality.
If parents, you know, want to -- suppose you have a child who you think may be struggling with some of these issues, right? Then, I'm going to maybe get some of these books or, you know, figure out how to talk to my child, right? But I guess the question is, why this is appropriate at a public library, when, you know, a lot of these images and these people are very provocative. And there's a sexualization element to it, no matter how tame it is. There are enormous eye lashes, and, you know, like, outfits, and you know, there’s shoes, or, you know, huge platform shoes. And the women who are about to come on, I know, because I -- just from reading some of what they’ve said -- they think these are negative images for girls, negative images for women. That it's a mockery of femininity, and they find that difficult for girls.
KIM HALL (500 MOM STRONG): We couldn’t believe that this group is coming for our children now. Now they want to groom our children into their unhealthy lifestyle. And we just decided that it absolutely had to stop. I had a career where I went around the country auditing and coding medical records, all over the country, large hospitals, small rural hospitals, and I saw the effects of HIV and AIDS on young men. And it’s heartbreaking. And, by their own words, these drag queens are telling us that they are grooming our children to be drag queens and into the homosexual lifestyle.