Protesters Clash Over Drag Queen Storytime in Southern California

September 3, 2019 Updated: September 3, 2019

Protesters on both sides of a controversial Drag Queen Storytime event clashed outside a Chula Vista, Calif., library on Aug. 29, as local police showed up to keep the peace.

Tempers flared when about six LGBTQ+ activists disrupted a scheduled MassResistance press conference at the Otay Ranch branch of the Chula Vista Public Library. The counter-protesters brandished signs and shouted down about 25 supporters of the MassResistance, calling them bigots and white supremacists for their tough stance against the library program.

As its name suggests, the scheduled Sept. 10 event involves drag queens reading stories to 3- to 8-year-old children at a branch of the Chula Vista Public Library. It’s billed as a reading program for young children to promote literacy, diversity, and acceptance.

Arthur Schaper, a local organizer for MassResistance, said Drag Queen Storytime is less about literacy and diversity and more about indoctrinating impressionable young minds to accept or support a specific lifestyle and ideology.

“We’re here to ensure the Drag Queen story hour is canceled here in Chula Vista,” Schaper said. “We want it to be shut down all over the country. This is a perverse, destructive program pushing lies.”

Meanwhile, one woman called MassResistance a white supremacist group and accused its supporters of wanting to round up gay people, put them in internment camps, and execute them.

“I don’t know what they think the drag queens are going to do,” she told news reporters. “They’re going to wear wigs and dresses and read stories. Big deal!”

In a phone interview with The Epoch Times on Friday, Schaper accused the counter-protesters of attempting to block free speech.

“They want to shut down every person who speaks out against their lifestyle,”Schaper said. “They wanted to silence us. They weren’t interested in civil dialogue.”

Schaper described MassResistance as a pro-family organization that opposes same-sex marriage and the LGBTQ+ agenda.

“We’re not an explicitly religious group, but we welcome people of all faiths who want to fight for family and freedom,” said Schaper. “We are a political activist organization.”

Dennis Hodges, a pastor at Christian church in Lemon Grove who attended the event, told The Epoch Times he opposes Drag Queen Storytime.

“They are confusing children,” Hodges said.

“Just like drag queens have their hour of storytelling … how about Christians going into the library with the Bible for their hour?” he said. “What are the librarians and city council people going to say about Christians having a ‘Christian Hour’ to read to children?”

Hodges, who is black, scoffed at activist claims that Schaper is a white supremacist, adding that any notion of a black pastor supporting a ‘Nazi or hater’ makes no sense at all.

“How do you have a black pastor amongst all the bigots if that’s the case?” he said. “I didn’t feel threatened by Arthur … We talked, we laughed. I hugged him. He hugged me. I mean, I don’t get what they’re talking about.”

Hodges called for more civility from people on both sides of the issue.

“I would like to see dialogue without the screaming, hollering, shouting, foul language and name calling,” he said.

Schaper said the press conference was called in response to an outcry from concerned parents in the community who find Drag Queen Storytime unsuitable for young children.

Chula Vista City Councilmember Steve Padilla issued a written statement on Facebook about the incident.

“I am disappointed that some voices both from inside and outside our community have chosen the upcoming Drag Queen Storytime as an opportunity to perpetuate long discredited false and discriminatory narratives targeting the LGBTQ+ community in the name of protecting children,” an excerpt from his statement read.

Tony Villafranca, a Catholic and high-ranking member of the Knights of Columbus, also spoke at the press conference against Drag Queen Storytime.

“In my opinion, it’s an agenda,” Villafranca told The Epoch Times in an interview on Friday. “It’s an attempt to normalize a behavior from a small group in society in a larger-than-life way and legitimize it. It is indoctrination … and there is no place for that in our children’s minds in those formative years.”

Chula Vista police have not reported any incidents of violence or arrests made in connection with the protests.

Chula Vista Public Library announced Friday that to accommodate the number of registrants, Drag Queen Storytime has been moved to the Civic Center Public Library branch on F Street Tuesday, Sept. 10 at 4 p.m.

Meanwhile, several Judeo-Christian groups opposed to Drag Queen Storytime are planning a press conference on Wednesday, Sept. 4.

Brad Jones is a freelance writer based in California.

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