Ann Widdecombe has spoken out about drag queens reading fairy tales to schoolchildren, arguing that parents should be in control of ‘the pace of revelation’ for their children.
Drag queen Alyssa Van Delle will read alternative fairy tales and LGBT fiction to students at Taunton Library as part of LGBTQ+ History Month in February.
However the Drag Queen Story Time event has received a mixed response from parents, with some questioning whether drag queens were appropriate as children’s performers, and others taking issue with the nature of the books being read.
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Speaking to talkRADIO’s Cristo Foufas, Ms Widdecombe said: “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a drag queen reading a story but of course this is being promoted as part of LGBT week, challenging traditional fairy stories.
“Childhood, particularly early childhood, is a time of innocence and I think parents should control the pace of revelation. They should be the ones to talk about these things to very young children if they’re going to be talked about at all.”
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Criticisms of the event included concerns that drag queens were inappropriately sexual, although Ms Widdecombe said this was not the main basis of her concerns.
“Nobody is suggesting for one moment that there’s going to be any detail about what the handsome prince and the handsome prince do to each other, nobody is suggesting that.
“Nevertheless, I think the fear is that they will start to become curious about things that most children should not until they’re a bit older, it’s as straight-forward as that.”
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Challenged by Cristo Foufas on the need to tackle rising levels of homophobic bullying in schools, Ms Widdecombe said she regarded such concerns with ‘a healthy dose of scepticism’.
“When I hear statistics like that I don’t immediately think ‘oh what a terrible society we live in’ so I’m afraid I really don’t see the need to start explaining things to three or four-year-olds who quite honestly know a different world and need these things revealed gradually.”
Ms Widdecombe also reasserted her opposition to gay marriage, saying she was a ‘firm believer that marriage is between a man and a woman’, and cited fears that redefining marriage may lead to the definition widening to include polygamy in the future.
Drag Queen Story Time has been running for two years and has performed 50 shows across the UK to children of a variety of ages.
talkRADIO has contacted Alyssa Van Delle for a response.
Words: Cormac Connelly-Smith