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Drag Queen Story Hour set for Sparks Library despite critics
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RENO, Nev. (AP) — The Drag Queen Story Hour is coming to northern Nevada.

Two drag queens plan to read stories to children at the Sparks Library on July 20, according to the Reno Gazette Journal.

Libraries across the country have hosted similar events since the New York-based nonprofit sponsored readings in San Francisco four years ago.

The event is geared toward ages 3-8 with local people in drag reading three to four children’s books.

The conservative Nevada Family Alliance has been urging local residents to contact the local library to oppose the first such event in Washoe County.

Washoe County Library system director Jeff Scott said he’s received dozens of critical emails but there are no plans to cancel. He says he answered all of them the same way.

“We hope that events like these will encourage inclusivity with everyone in our community,” Scott said.

In Sparks, the readers will be Aspen Meadows and Ginger Devine, the Reno News & Review Drag Queen of the Year in 2015.

“You get to see them in person and it opens minds,” Scott said. “For us, we thought this program would complement the Northern Nevada Pride Parade.”

“We have a team of people that come up with ideas, and this came after we walked in the Pride Parade last year,” Scott said of annual event, to be held this year on July 27 in Wingfield Park.

Drag Queen Story Hour “helps children develop empathy, learn about gender diversity and difference, and tap into their own creativity,” according to the group’s website.

“DQSH can also be life-changing and ultimately life-saving for LGBTQ kids and teens, kids with LGBTQ parents or family members, and anyone who feels different because of their identity or interests or who may not otherwise see themselves reflected in the broader culture.”

Reno mom Vanessa Vancour said she will take her daughters to Drag Queen Story Hour. She also took them to the school board meeting when the board voted against approving lessons on sexual orientation and gender identity as part of the sex-ed curriculum.

“This gave me a chance to have conversations about the importance of standing up for other people,” Vancour said.

The program has been protested in other cities. Two story hours in Ohio were canceled after threats.

The Lafayette Public Library in Louisiana agreed in January to let an event take place after the ACLU of Louisiana filed a lawsuit.

The Nevada Family Alliance has been using social media to encourage people to contact the library in opposition to the county’s promotion of “a controversial lifestyle.”

“Drag Queen Story Hour is unsuitable for children. It is ideologically driven and it is wrong to use our taxpayer-funded library for such a controversial topic,” Karen England, the group’s executive director, wrote in an email to The Associated Press on Friday.

Scott said there is a free speech zone outside the Sparks library if anyone wants to protest the event.

“I am happy that we can provide events like these for our community,” he said.