NEW PORT RICHEY, Fla. (WFLA) – Heated protests at the monthly “drag queen story hour” held at a Port Richey book store, are forcing organizers to move the event.
But the new location comes with a whole new set of concerns.
The new venue is called “Peace Hall.” But if the reading program comes there, there are worries, protesters will make things not very peaceful.
Once a month, for the past nine months, drag queens have read children’s books at the Paperback Exchange in Port Richey.
The bookstore’s landlord asked the owner to re-locate story hour, saying it attracted negative attention.
So organizers decided to move the event to Sims Park.
“We look at this as a win because we are protecting our kids. And we’re looking for a safer place to do this and we want to make it bigger and better” said bookstore owner, Joan Hepsworth.
The city of New Port Richey may have to provide police protection, so it wants the drag queen folks to get a “special events permit.”
Organizers don’t think that’s fair. “We’re here. We want to be treated equally. We want to be treated fair. All we want to be able to do is reserve this peace hall venue like any other organization does” said Nina Borders, President of Pasco Pride.
At Tuesday night’s city council meeting, members heard from supporters and those who oppose the drag queens.
Stephanie Stuart is a drag queen, and reads to children. “We have been accused of grooming children to bring them into the LGBTQ community and that is not what we’re doing,” he said.
Deb Maxwell told the council, her opposition is rooted in her religion. “They’re causing gender confusion in little children,” said Maxwell.
She believes drag queens are anti-god. “That’s sexually, that’s a sexual thing with a drag queen. It’s a man. He is a man. A man from birth” said Maxwell.
Wyatt Washington doesn’t care of about all that. He just enjoys the stories. “It is my favorite event of the month,” said Washington.
Council members say they just want to be prepared if protesters get out of hand.
The special events permit, would let cops know in advance, so they can have officers ready.
Despite opposition, organizers will have to get that permit.