Rochdale council has been accused of ‘pandering to bullies’ following its decision to drop a drag queen book reading event. Performed by children’s author Aida H Dee ‘The Storytime Drag Queen’, the event was due to take place at three libraries across the borough next week, with readings in Rochdale, Heywood and Middleton.
It formed part of the Drag Queen Story Hour UK tour, offering ‘inclusive storytelling for all ages’, with the aim of promoting diversity and acceptance from a young age. Council bosses have not given a specific reason for indefinitely proposing the event, but it comes after sessions up and down the country saw angry protests from people claiming they were harmful to children.
Police were called after protesters stormed a library in Reading last month and there have also been attempts to disrupt events in Leeds, Portsmouth and Bristol. But Councillor Andy Kelly, leader of Rochdale ’s Lib Dem group, says bosses should not have been cowed by such behaviour.
“This is a really disappointing decision from the council,” he told the Local Democracy Reporting Service. “Any threats of violence is just bullying and needs dealing with for what it is. Cancelling panders to those bullies.
“I have had dozens of messages about this today- all from mothers wanting to bring their young children. I’m minded to remind people that Rochdale is the borough that brought us Norman Evans- arguably the original story telling drag queen – and we should be proud of diversity and stick up for difference in our borough.”
Coun Kelly said he hoped to see the events rescheduled soon.
“And if you don’t like drag queens telling stories- don’t buy a ticket,” he said. “And don’t bother buying a ticket for panto at Xmas either.”
Read more: Council accused of ‘pandering to bullies’ after decision to drop drag queen