LGBTQ rights activists canceled their controversial Holi-drag Storytime, a part of Drag Queen Story Hour geared towards small children as young as two years old mere hours before the event was set to begin.

On Saturday, the Red Oak Community School, part of the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Columbus scheduled to have a holiday drag queen event where three local drag queens would be in attendance to read books “highlighting inclusion and acceptance” to the children and would perform a few holiday numbers.

Upon the announcement of the event Ohioans displayed their outrage on social media and scheduled a protest with the intent of getting the story time canceled.

The event garnered attention after the Proud Boys announced that they would be attending the event to protest. They also encouraged other Ohioans to join them.

The radical left political group ANTIFA responded, saying they would also be in attendance.

Although the event was cancelled just a few hours before it was set to begin, protestors and advocates had a shouting match on High Street.

Lisa Chaffee director of Ohio Parents Rights in Education, who attended the protest, told The Ohio Star that some members of the Ohio Joint Militia, as well as some of the ANTIFA counter-protesters were armed with long guns.

However, she noted, “There was no violence nothing physical. Just 2 hours and 45 minutes of people shouting at people across the street.”

Red Oak Community School’s manager said that they cancelled the event over how to best execute a security plan.

“I’m here on this empty stage because in the end there was a disagreement about how this community should be best protected,” Ryan said.

In her statement, Ryan said the police’s “casual distant acknowledgment” of their event led the planning committee to believe that they would not be safe. She reiterated that it was not the Proud Boys, but the safety plan, that resulted in the cancellation.

According to Ryan, the school “sold almost 1,000 tickets” for the “Holi-Drag,” which had raised more than $5,000 for a local LGBTQ charity.

But the Columbus Police Department (CPD) said that the statements by Ryan are incorrect.

“CPD learned about this event through Facebook and immediately reached out to the church and the school. A face-to-face meeting took place with all parties on November 18th to talk about the event and a safety plan. The school did request a special duty officer but canceled that request on the same day of the meeting,” the statement said.

The statement went on to say that the school permitted CPD to have plainclothes officers outside of the event but not inside the building as they had their own private security for inside.

“CPD pulled together resources from several units to make sure we were present, including officers from our bike patrol and dialogue team. Even though the event was canceled, we still had personnel and officers in the area to make sure all parties were safe,” the statement said.

According to a statement from Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther, the day before the event the school indicated they no longer wished to partner with the private security firm and tasked the police with protecting the event.

“As a result of this abrupt change, the event performers indicated that they no longer felt safe to participate in the event. Shortly thereafter, the event organizer announced the cancellation of the event,” Ginther said.

According to The Buckeye Flame, one of the performers Mikyla Denise posted a video on Facebook saying he was withdrawing from the event due to the internal conflict about which security would be present and not due to the protestors.

According to a Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey,  about 60% of American adults consider such events as Drag Queen Story Hour to be inappropriate for children.

“It is a social experiment and it’s children as young as three who are subjected to this experiment. In a time where kids are trying to learn to just be kids is it necessary to introduce them to adult themes?” Concerned parent Bethany Harry said.

Even drag queens have cautioned parents about exposing their children to drag culture. In 2021, drag queen Kitty Demure had a message for parents who take their children to Drag Queen Story Hour.

“I have no idea why you want drag queens to read books to your children. A drag queen performs in a nightclub for adults. There is a lot of filth that goes on, a lot of sexual stuff that goes on. And backstage there’s a lot of nudity, sex, and drugs. So I don’t think this is an avenue you would want your child to explore.But to actually get [your children] involved in drag is extremely, extremely irresponsible on your part,” Demure said.

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Hannah Poling is a lead reporter at The Ohio Star and The Star News Network. Follow Hannah on Twitter @HannahPoling1. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Drag Queen Story Time” by Jennifer Ricard. CC BY-SA 4.0.