PORT RICHEY, Fla. (WFLA) – The Paperback Book Exchange in Port Richey is a small, privately owned bookstore. It’s a quiet place for people who love books, but once a month it’s become a flashpoint for protest.
Owner Joan Hepsworth says she hosts a book reading for children once a month, put on by Drag Queens and a local Baptist Church now comes to protest the readings.
“I understand they are maybe concerned about what we are doing here with the kids, we’re having a story hour. We read to them, we sing with them,” said Hepsworth.
Members of the KJV Baptist Church have protested each of the readings. The address listed for the church is a small, private home just over seven miles from the bookstore.
A woman at the home covered her face with a pillow and refused to give her name when she spoke with a reporter, but she didn’t have a problem saying why she goes to the book store to protest.
“We don’t believe that children at that age need to be worried if they were correctly made a boy or correctly made a girl,” said the woman. “Kids shouldn’t even be thinking about that. They would be happy, but now you’ve got some kids worried, oh was I supposed to be made a girl or maybe I was made wrong.”
Videos of the protestors on YouTube show them yelling at people in the bookstore. As they protest there are small children with them on the sidewalk. The words they use could easily be considered offensive and hateful.
The woman from the church says, what the people are doing at the bookstore is wrong.
“Those Drag Queens, they come, they don’t dress like I do, they don’t dress like a normal woman dresses, they dress sexually, very, very sexually,” said the woman.
Joan Hepsworth says she feels threatened by the protestors.
“Whenever a child shows up, we have to have them park in the back because if the child and the parent get out of the car they scream and yell at them and intimidate them it’s frightening to be called names, awful names, names you shouldn’t call anybody ever,” said Hepsworth who added that the readings will go on, despite the protests.