Fox Nation and Fox News Radio host Todd Starnes claimed that Drag Queen Story Hour programs are “an effort to indoctrinate little children … as young as two years old” and are being used to “groom the next generation,” continuing a pattern of attacks from his network and the broader right-wing media.
Drag Queen Story Hour is a national program in which drag queens read children’s books to kids at libraries, schools, and bookstores. The program aims to help children “develop empathy, learn about gender diversity and difference, and tap into their own creativity.”
Starnes is just the latest example of Fox figures making extreme remarks about Drag Queen Story Hour. In June, Fox anchor Martha MacCallum -- who the network touts as part of its purported “news”-side team -- hosted leaders from 500 Mom Strong, an anti-LGBTQ Washington state group. Her guest claimed that drag queens are grooming youth “into their unhealthy lifestyle” that includes “HIV and AIDS.” Right-wing and evangelical media have regularly boosted that group and its protests, turning them into a national story. Websites like LifeSiteNews have published high-engagement content about the group’s work and rhetoric, which includes comparing drag to blackface, and prominent anti-LGBTQ figure The Activist Mommy advertised and attended a protest alongside it.
Also in June, Fox’s Laura Ingraham dedicated an entire podcast episode to spreading myths that drag queens and LGBTQ people are dangerous to children. Her guest Bill Donohue compared Drag Queen Story Hour to NAMBLA. The next day, Ingraham hosted a guest from the extreme anti-LGBTQ group MassResistance on her Fox show The Ingraham Angle to discuss Drag Queen Story Hour. During the segment, Ingraham’s guest promoted his group’s book The Health Hazards of Homosexuality and compared the events to “porn actor story hour.”
Todd Starnes has a history of making anti-LGBTQ comments and supporting and hosting figures from extreme anti-LGBTQ groups like Liberty Counsel and American Family Association. He has suggested that 2015 floods in Washington, D.C., were punishment from God for the Supreme Court’s marriage equality decision and has said marriage equality could lead to legalized beastiality.