The county council has defended a story hour event for children hosted by drag queens, after debate broke out on social media.

Drag Queen Story Hour is for children ages three to 11 and aims to show the world that “being different is not a bad thing” through creative and imaginative storytelling.

Oxfordshire Libraries will host three Drag Queen Story Hour events on August 23 at Oxfordshire County Library, Botley Library and Didcot Library.

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Following news of the events, an anonymous post was shared on the Spotted: Wantage Facebook group asking people what they think of the matter.

The poster mistakenly believed that a Drag Queen Story Hour will take place at Wantage Library, which Oxfordshire County Council has clarified to this newspaper is not the case.

However, the post sparked debate with people discussing whether or not the event is appropriate for children.

Several people pointed out that children often see drag queens in pantomimes in the form of characters like Widow Twanky.

Oxford Mail: A previous Drag Queen Story Hour event A previous Drag Queen Story Hour event

Derek Blanshard, for one, echoed these thoughts and called the event “brilliant”.

He said: “England has a long tradition of men dressing as women for performance. Think of renaissance theatre, mummers plays, music hall and pantomime.”

Similarly, Simon Mandarino noted: “If it was phrased as "Pantomime Dame story time", no one would bat an eyelid.”

On the other hand, Stacey Hampson called the children “too young” to watch the event and Geraldine Wiltshire said: “Totally inappropriate and not normal for children to see.”

Kate Dean was also against the event, she said: “Stop it and let children just grow up naturally.”

Mike Wright said it is “disgusting” that “so many grown adults are making so many assumptions about this event”.

“If a kid is old enough to play Dress Up and be taken to a panto, they're old enough to listen to a story read by someone in a brightly coloured outfit,” he added.

An Oxfordshire County Council spokesperson said: “We’re confident that this is appropriate and well-suited for the advertised age groups, and that it is being delivered by professional children's entertainers and literary enthusiasts.

Oxford Mail: A previous Drag Queen Story Hour event A previous Drag Queen Story Hour event

“Parents who have attended previous performances at other libraries in the country have shared very positive feedback about the event, its suitability for younger audiences, and their children’s enjoyment of it.

“The nature of the event is, and will be, clearly advertised; and we believe that it will attract those who feel comfortable and positive about its content.

“We acknowledge that there has been a debate on social media and that there are a number of differing views.”


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This story was written by Sophie Perry. She joined the team in 2021 as a digital reporter.

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