Moray Council has condemned social media abuse after organising a Drag Queen Story Hour event in Elgin as part of Pride month.
Miss Lossie Mouth is due to host a Saturday morning story telling session for children up to six years old featuring tales promoting diversity and acceptance.
Within hours of promoting the Elgin Library drag queen event, Moray Council was forced to turn off Facebook comments after being inundated with “offensive and abusive” comments.
Moray MP Douglas Ross has described the show as “inappropriate” and says he has contacted the local authority to raise concerns from locals while others have praised the local authority for organising the event.
Moray Council has stressed it has no plans to cancel the event. Meanwhile, it is understood protests are being considered for the day.
Miss Lossie Mouth has stressed the event aims to teach children about acceptance and how to remain authentic against the toughest of circumstances.
What is the Elgin Library event?
Drag Queen story hours have been held across the UK aiming to promote inclusivity through storytelling and other fun activities.
The Elgin Library session, featuring teacher John Campbell as Miss Lossie Mouth, will feature three stories aimed at showcasing diversity.
Zee Zee the Zebra features a zebra who is not allowed to play with other zebras because its stripes are a different colour, And Tango Makes Three is about two male penguins who start a family and Unicorn Not Wanted is about a unicorn who is not wanted but still takes the limelight.
When the event was advertised, Mr Campbell said: “As a teacher myself I appreciate the way to instil a love of reading from an early age is to make it fun.
“That’s exactly what Drag Queen story time does with an engaging hour of colourful, joyous stories.”
Following the controversy, a statement from Miss Lossie Mouth said: “Drag queens and kings turn trash into treasure, taking our inner spark and allowing it to shine on the outside.
“And we invite respect through the audacity of being our most fabulous selves, holding our heads high even against the toughest critics.
“I’m using drag as an educator and performer to teach acceptance and how to use your superhero powers to be your authentic self even in the darkest of times.”
What is the drag queen controversy?
Within minutes of Moray Council promoting the Elgin Library drag queen event on social media, comments began being posted horrified at the prospect of children enjoying the stories.
One wrote: “This is awful. Let kids be kids.”
Another added: “Go read to the elderly if they’re that desperate to read books out loud. Leave the kids alone.”
A third said: “Shameful. Just shameful.”
However, others have praised Moray Council for organising the event.
One said: “Amazing and well done Moray Council. Wish I was younger, would definitely love to come along.
“Ignore the haters, they have a choice not to bring their kids, it really is that simple.”
Another added: “Oh no, the poor kids. How dare they be exposed to some excitement and diversity. How will they ever cope?
“Get a grip people, or do you have an issue with children watching panto?”
Moray Council stressed in its Facebook comments that it organises story times based on different themes, with the one featuring Miss Lossie Mouth focusing on inclusion and acceptance for Pride month.”
It later added: “It’s a shame we’re having to switch the comments off on this post due to the offensive, abusive, defamatory nature of some.
“It goes against the grain to stifle debate when we’re trying to promote acceptance, tolerance and open-mindedness but some people have taken their contribution too far into personal abuse, which is not tolerated on our page.
“On the other hand, the thread demonstrates what our LGBTQ+ friends still have to deal with regularly. And why we support Pride month.”
A spokeswoman later added: “We appreciate and accept that everyone has differing views on drag queens but believe our fun, lively and joyous celebration of reading and self-expression is a suitable way to encourage confidence in our young readers.
“We look forward to singing and reading together while breaking down some of those myths about libraries – it certainly won’t be quiet!”
Miss Lossie Mouth also expressed shock at the comments on their own Facebook page, adding: “But we rise and sing as loud as we can.”
However, many others on social media praised Moray Council for organising the event.
Sean McNamara, from the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals, said: “Libraries exist to support every member of their community and to encourage people to learn about the world around them in a respectful way.
“Drag Queen Story Hour has proved to be an extremely popular way of doing just that and has a demonstrably positive effect on children’s reading and engagement and is a valuable way of teaching literacy skills.”
Is it any different to pantomime?
The Miss Lossie Mouth drag queen event at Elgin Library has provoked a divisive reaction from across the community.
Pride in Moray held its first event in the town last year to bring members of the LGBT+ community together.
When the Miss Lossie Mouth event was announced, the group gave its backing to the event, a stance it continues to have.
Chairman David Harrison said: “There’s been a lot of concerns about the comments. I think for some reason people think this is going to be adult entertainment aimed at children – that’s really not happening.
“It’s a drag act who is reading stories based on inclusivity and equality being presented in a way for children of that age. It’s not sexualised, it’s not about gender conformity, it’s just about accepting others.
“It’s been discussed within the committee and one person asked if it was really different to pantomimes?”
Meanwhile, concerns have been raised by others about the impact of exposing young children to drag queen acts.
Daphne Francis, a member of Safeguarding School Children in Moray, described Miss Lossie Mouth as a “very offensive caricature” of women – adding the group is considering some form of protest at the event if it goes ahead.
She said: “It’s (drag acts) an overblown and stereotypical image of women with inflated breasts on display. To be supportive of displaying it to children from zero to six, I can’t believe it.
“Obviously the parents who take their children are supportive of it clearly don’t understand this can be linked to very serious issues. We don’t want to upset parents, we want to engage with them.
“It’s more fun for adults. A lot of people like drag shows. If you want to get your children reading though there’s 101 different ways to get them engaged in books.”
Elgin drag queen row turns political
Politicians from a range of parties have got involved in the row.
Moray MP Douglas Ross, who is Scottish Conservatives leader, has written to Moray Council to raise concerns from locals.
On Twitter, he wrote: “It’s totally inappropriate to hold a show like this for kids under the age of six.
“Story time for babies and young kids shouldn’t focus on gender or sexual identity.
It’s totally inappropriate to hold a show like this for kids under the age of six.
Story time for babies and young kids shouldn’t focus on gender or sexual identity.
That is common sense and on behalf of constituents who’ve contacted me, I’ve raised this with the council. https://t.co/nzoy9v4A4P
— Douglas Ross MP MSP (@Douglas4Moray) June 6, 2023
However, his involvement has been condemned by Neil Alexander, leader of the Moray Liberal Democrats.
He said: “The vile hatred directed at Miss Lossie Mouth and Moray Council regarding this event is unacceptable in Scotland in 2023.
“The event was announced on the same day as new stats showed that Moray has the highest percentage of child poverty in the entire north of Scotland, yet that has received nowhere near the same attention.
“It’s deplorable of our elected MP to be attacking this individual in this way and stoking such hatred. We deserve better.”
— Shona Morrison (@MorayShona) June 6, 2023
Meanwhile, SNP Elgin councillor Jeremie Fernandes, who works in library, has condemned Twitter comments about the event as “absolutely disgusting”.
He added: “One of public libraries’ missions is to promote acceptance, tolerance and open-mindedness.
“Libraries are a welcoming environment for all. These comments show that we need Pride more than ever.”