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Herts County Council defends Drag Queen Storytime after Twitter row

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Hertfordshire County Council has defended a decision to host Drag Queen Storytime in one of its libraries.

The authority was criticised on social media today (Tuesday, February 25) following controversy in Scotland when a drag queen called FlowJob read to children at a primary school as part of a visit with 25-year-old Scottish National Party MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire South Mhairi Black.

The event was intended to mark LGBTQ history month but Renfrewshire Council was forced to apologise to parents when sexually explicit material was noted on the adult performer's social media.

Drag Queen Storytime (30149842)
Drag Queen Storytime (30149842)

John Swinney, Scotland's education secretary, said the performer "quite clearly" should not have been invited to address pupils at Glencoats Primary in Paisley.

On Twitter, posters then raised concerns about Drag Queen Storytime for children aged from three to be hosted in Herts on Saturday, March 21, billed thus: "Hitchin Library is very excited to be hosting a Drag Queen Storytime with the fabulous Ruby Violet. This is a wonderful family-friendly event which will see Ruby Violet share stories and songs of inclusivity, individuality and love."

Those concerned pointed out the performer uses her Twitter to link to a profile on qxmagazine.com which showcases the adult humour aspect of Ruby's act with obvious sexual references.

However, a spokeswoman for Hertfordshire County Council said: "Following the success of Drag Queen Storytimes in other library services nationally, Hertfordshire Library Service received numerous requests from families to run similar events.

"Before booking this session, we did, of course, seek feedback from another library service that had hosted a similar event. Feedback about Ruby Violet was very positive – the service confirmed that the performance was age-appropriate, well received by families and that they would be happy to work with her again.

"This event is already proving very popular and tickets are now sold out.

"All library events are voluntary, parents and carers choose to bring and accompany their child to storytime sessions. In this instance, they have booked in advance to attend and are abundantly clear about the format of the event. The library service frequently welcomes outside speakers, performers or authors to host events at libraries across the county, there are clear policies and procedures in place to ensure that these events are safe and enjoyable for our customers.

"In Hertfordshire, we pride ourselves on creating an environment which values equality, diversity and inclusivity, and we endeavour to demonstrate these values to our residents as we work in our local communities every day. This includes in our libraries where we provide a wide range of cultural activities for people of all ages."

Ruby Violet, nominated for the QX Cabaret Awards, performed a series of pre-shows before the screening of musicals Calamity Jane, Guys and Dolls and Cabaret at Chelmsford's Cramphorn Studio in January.

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