To the editor:

For the last several months, Hennepin County Libraries have been hosting “Stories Together With Drag Performers” once a week, where drag queens go to public libraries once a week and read to kids. This is part of a nationwide “Drag Queen Story Hour” program, meant to encourage members of the LGBT community to volunteer their time to entertain children.

It was discovered, however, that the drag performer who read to kids at a story time event in early October also recently retweeted pornography on Twitter, stripped during a drag show, and openly talked about using drugs. Even more disturbing are the reports that multiple known sex offenders have hosted these story times in other states. This is not the example we should be setting for our young children.

Instead of bringing in drag queens, libraries and schools need to focus on what's truly important: reading to kids! This kind of adult content is neither appropriate for children nor helpful for their learning and development. It's outrageous that publicly-funded institutions would put on such programming.

Last week, the national report card evaluating reading and math scores for 4th and 8th grade students in each state came out, and Minnesota slipped several spots below the national average. Child literacy is crucial and reading to kids is very important to improving literacy, but bringing in adult performers to read to them is not the way to improve our standing.

Instead, I would encourage parents to read to their children, and if libraries want to hold story time events, kids would be better served by having age-appropriate book characters and community leaders in to read. Our kids deserve fun, age-appropriate activities, and our libraries have a responsibility to ensure that their programming reflects that.

State Rep. Mary Franson

District 8B

Alexandria, MN