March 18, 2019
When Montrose Library asked a drag queen to read to kids, they probably should have looked into his personal story first. That's when the Houston location would have discovered: Albert Garza wasn't just indoctrinating children -- he has a history of sexually abusing them.
It was a controversial idea to start with. But when library officials invited Albert Garza to host their September event, they had no idea they were endangering kids. That's because, the library announced later, they never bothered to finish a background check. Fortunately for parents, Houston MassResistance did it for them. And what they found was shocking. "We may not all agree that having adult entertainers is the right way to entertain young children or promote literacy and adversity and acceptance and inclusion," the group's Tracy Shannon told Todd Starnes. "But we can all agree that it's inappropriate to have a sex offender entertaining children at the library."
Officials at the Montrose Library issued a public apology for the incident and promised to be more careful. "We were made aware today that one participant for Drag Queen storytime who read at the September 29, 2018, Drag Queen Storytime has a criminal background that should have prevented him from participating in the program. We assure you that this participant will not be involved in any future HPL [Houston Public Library] programs. In our review of our process and of this participant, we discovered that we failed to complete a background check as required by our own guidelines. We deeply regret this oversight and the concern this may cause our customers. We realize this is a serious matter."
They tried to reassure parents that every program is "supervised by HPL staff" and "no participant is ever left alone with children." But that's of little comfort to community members, who were stunned that anyone would be so lax about kids' safety. "If they had done their job and due diligence -- if they had said wait...maybe it's not a good idea to have a sex offender who at 200 pounds and 5-foot-11 assaulted an 8-year-old boy," Shannon said.
Usually, the fact that a library is willing to host these drag queen events is horrifying enough. Imagine finding out that the person they invited wasn't even vetted. Or worse, a threat to kids! Houston residents have already filed a lawsuit to stop taxpayer-funded drag events at Montrose, and a close call like this one only pours more gasoline on the fire. We shouldn't have to wait for a child to get hurt before we realize what a terrible idea these storytimes are. A local library is the last place parents should have to worry about an unhappy ending for kids.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.