A new push to use storytime at the library to encourage imagination and teach acceptance is being met with some controversy in San Diego's South Bay and across the country.
On Sept. 10 at 4 p.m. in Chula Vista’s Otay Ranch Library, a drag queen is scheduled to read books to children during an event called "Drag Queen Storytime."
Parents have been spreading flyers online and in person urging fellow parents to call the library and put a stop to the event.
"It’s unfortunate that people aren’t agreeing with it in when it’s all about fun,"said Strawberry Corn Cakes, as she put on her makeup to get into character.
The 29-year-old drag performer isn’t part of the literacy program, but she’d like to be to help inspire children. She said she sees the good in the library event.
"We’re hired clowns as far as with drag goes. With story time, let’s say I dress as Storm from 'X-men.' They’re like, 'Oh my God, Storm is here!' They’re going to want to listen and remember Storm read to them and Storm is cool. Storm is reading, so reading is cool," she explained.
Programs similar to Drag Queen Storytime have already sparked protests and petitions nationwide.
The upcoming event in Chula Vista is doing the same in that community.
Amado Huizar is a father of four and pastor in Chula Vista.
He’s worried about the influence it will have on children and is hoping the event at the local library will be postponed or cancelled.
“First and foremost, it’s the sexual innuendo that has to do with it," said Huizar, referring to part of the reason he's against the program.
When asked if she thinks the reading event is about sexuality, Strawberry Corn Cakes replied, "Not at all. Not at all. Especially not with kids. Come on, now."
"On television, in movies, we have G-rated, PG-rated, PG-13. And a library, just from my vantage point, should be G-rated," Huizar added. "And that's why I feel it shouldn't happen."
The city of Chula Vista said parents have to specifically sign up for their children to participate in the readings. It's a choice each family can make on their own.
The city issued this statement Tuesday, which read, in part:
"Hosting engaging drag queens to read and relate with children sends a message of acceptance and tolerance, underscoring the idea that different is wonderful. The Drag Queen Storytime emphasizes play, fun and imagination."
Nadia Kean-Ayub is a mother of two. She’s planning to sign her children up for the storytime session.
"The most important thing I want to influence and drive into their mind is we should be accepting of all people," she said.
Meanwhile, a national organization called "Mass Resistance" plans to hold a demonstration Thursday afternoon outside the Chula Vista Library's main branch on F Street to call for the cancellation of Drag Queen Storytime.
That group called the event a "lurid story hour not fit for children."
On Wednesday, councilmember and former Chula Vista mayor Steve Padilla released a statement in response to the demonstration planned by Mass Resistance.
As a member of the LGBTQ community, Padilla denounced the group’s "fearmongering" actions, calling Mass Resistance a "nationally known hate-group which promotes not just anti-LGBTQ beliefs, but also anti-immigrant and white supremacist beliefs."
Padilla said Chula Vista’s "greatest strength" is its diversity and its residents of many backgrounds and perspectives.
Padilla’s statement continued, in part:
"I am disappointed that some voices both from inside and outside our community have chosen to use the upcoming Drag Queen Storytime as an opportunity to perpetuate long discredited false and discriminatory narratives targeting the LGBTQ+ community in the name of protecting children. This is wrong and must be called out for what it is – the spreading of ignorance, fear, and hate."
The councilmember said the ideas of the group protesting the library event "don't reflect" the Chula Vista he loves.
"Our libraries are critical to our community’s well-being and serve as places that provide access to a wealth and diversity of information, ideas, and thought," he added. "This Storytime event is among many designed to foster a love of reading, and most importantly of all -to model the importance of diversity in learning, love, and civility."