CONWAY — A Manchester lawyer, on behalf of conservative religious non-profit Cornerstone Action, has filed a right-to-know request pertaining to the Drag Queen Story Hour that Conway Public Library plans to host at the end of the month as part of White Mountains Pride week.
The New Hampshire-based Cornerstone Action (not affiliated with Cornerstone Christian Academy, a K-8 school in Ossipee) bills itself on its website as a “non-partisan non-profit dedicated to New Hampshire where God is honored, religious freedom flourishes, families thrive and life is cherished.”
Christopher Jay, who previously was Cornerstone’s attorney and now works for the Massachusetts Family Institute, said: “I work in coordination with Cornerstone; I filed the request with the library both for myself and in conjunction with Cornerstone (I knew they’d be filing one, too; no reason to file two).”
Jay said he has “seen this Drag Library hour phenomenon moving up from Massachusetts — it originates from a San Francisco-based organization that lobbies libraries and librarians to hold these events.
“If the government vandalizes the family, either by adulterating the understanding of what natural family is or by pretending that there is nothing special about the natural family, then that logic will implode society (and we already see this as social relationships devolve and we become increasingly polarized against each other),” he added.
Cornerstone issued an official comment, saying: “Drag queens are ‘adults-only entertainment’ and adult-only entertainment should not be mixed with children. Parents have a right to know and to challenge this at their local library.
“The Conway Public Library is accountable for the events they choose to host and publicize, especially when an event features what is usually classified as ‘adult entertainment.’”
Jay’s request was sent May 23 to Conway Public Library Director David Smolen, Assistant Library Director Jeff Beavers, Head of Youth Services Tara McKenzie and Youth Services Program Coordinator Tessa Narducci. Technical Services Kate Baldwin was also CC’d on the request.
Jay requested “all email and social media communications” to and from “the individuals and entities registered for the June 28th, 2019, Drag Queen Teen Time program, including but not limited to NH Drag Queen Story Hour, or any individuals or organizations involved in coordinating the event.”
(Drag Queen Teen Time was a January event that took place at the Nashua Public Library and to which Jay, then working for Cornerstone, also objected.)
The right to know law provides a five-business-day window in which to respond. According to Jay, the library’s response came in eight business days, on June 5.
The Sun asked Jay if he found anything in the results to be surprising. He replied that “they mention that they believe this isn’t teaching kids about any type of sex. I’m not sure how one can disassociate X-rated porn entertainment from using sex for entertainment.”
He also expressed disappointment that no screening (background check) on “the Drag porn actor” was done.
The Sun reviewed the email exchanges in the documents Jay obtained.
On May 22, Narducci wrote an email, apparently to Drag Queen Story Hour New Hampshire, about one library patron’s reaction. The patron wrote: “I want to express my disappointment in the scheduling of the upcoming drag queen story hour at the library. In a time where sex trafficking is on the rise, do you think we should be trying to give children ‘positive role models’ in the sex industry? There is a approximately a 50 percent suicide rate in the transgender population, and I feel that promoting gender fluidity to toddlers and preschoolers is dangerous and detrimental to their well-being. I strongly urge you to reconsider this event.”
On May 22, DQSH NH replied: “Ughhhhhh. I don’t know why people don’t understand that we are not teaching them about any type of sex whether hetero or Homosexual.”
In another email, DQSH NH wrote in part: “I think if you get negative feedback ahead of time, you should definitely let Conway police know what’s going on and maybe ask them to be present. ... I’m hoping where it’s pride week that maybe the trolls will be too busy doing other things?”
As to the results of his request, Jay said, “Unfortunately, I’m not surprised,” adding, “I’m disappointed that concerned individuals with reasonable concerns are portrayed as ‘trolls’ who require a police response. These are citizens from the community who have legitimate concerns!”
Drag Queen Story Hour starts at 10 a.m. in the Ham Community Room at Conway Public Library on June 28. Ticket holders can enter the room at 9:30 a.m. Tickets will be distributed on the morning of the event.