Neosho State Representative Ben Baker wants restrictions on content offered at Missouri’s public libraries, specifically the drag queen story hours being held at them. St. Joseph and St. Louis Public Libraries have both held story times featuring people dressed in drag. Under Baker’s bill, public libraries could lose state funding and librarians could be fined or jailed for displaying age-inappropriate material.
Tanner Rambo, who’s helping to plan a rally to protest the bill, says drag queen story hours are not the same as drag queen shows.
“Even on a cruise ship, a standup comedian does one show at 9 p.m. that’s accessible for everyone, and then he or she does another show at midnight that’s only allowed to 18 and up. If you’re going to a nightclub in the middle of the night to see a show, chances are it’s adult-only content. Any kind of comment that these story hours are somehow involving nudity or in any way comparable to strippers, is just completely erroneous.”
Baker, a Republican minister and the former dean of students at Ozark Bible Institute in Neosho, says the story hours are a public safety issue because they have drawn child predators.
“There are documented cases of that. There was one in Houston, Texas where they allowed a this to happen and the guy that was performing in front of the children was a convicted sex offender that had assaulted an eight year old boy. And here’s the other thing I’m finding out, they don’t want to do background checks because people will say you’re discriminating, and targeting certain groups by saying they’re all child predators. So it is happening where I think these things draw in sexual predators.”
Baker says the media has misconstrued a lot of what is in his bill, leading to death threats. He says the books and materials offered during story time would still be available at the library.
“They would still be available by the parent to checkout and provide to their child if they so chose to do that. So this is not removing this content from the library, it’s just giving the community a way to weigh in on this.”
A drag queen rally is planned for March 7 at the Missouri Capitol in Jefferson City.
Baker’s legislation, House Bill 2044, has not been assigned to a committee yet.