Two petitions have been put to the Brisbane City Council following the weekend’s protest against the library’s drag storytime – one in support of the reading events continuing, and another attacking them.
The petition against drag storytime was set up by Queensland Director of the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) Wendy Francis on Tuesday, the day after the suicide of Wilson Gavin, the openly gay leader of the protest.
Francis has previously spoken out about drag storytimes, which are popular with diverse families, claiming they will turn children trans.
The petition refers to drag performers reading to children as “adult entertainment”, calling storytime a “controversial and divisive practice” and conflating drag with trans identity.
“Telling our kids that trans is great is highly controversial,” it reads.
“Medical experts warn of the danger of confusing children about their biological gender when the effects of puberty blockers, cross sex hormones and surgery are known to be harmful.
“The use of our public libraries for such events is a divisive practice rather than inclusive.”
The petition so far has more than 600 signatures, although QNews has reported that more than half of the initial supporters were not from Brisbane and therefore ineligible to sign.
When questioned about this on Facebook, Francis replied that it was “worth trying”.
The spirit and wording of the petition have been received poorly by the LGBTIQ community, and are potentially in breach of the council’s requirement that petitions “be respectful, decorous and temperate and not contain any language which is offensive or likely to be offensive to any member of the public”.
LGBTI Legal Service president Matilda Alexander, representing Rainbow Families Queensland, said they had contacted the council today due to being “very disturbed” by the petition content, according to the Brisbane Times.
“In our opinion, not only do these petitions fail to comply with these Brisbane City Council guidelines, but aspects of these petitions may also constitute unlawful hate speech or vilification and should not be published anywhere, including on the Brisbane City Council website,” said Alexander.
“We know there’s a lot of pain and anger around this issue at the moment, but we would urge compliance with Queensland laws, particularly given that these laws against hate speech have the stated aim of providing equality of opportunity for everyone.”
Lord mayor Adrian Schrinner said he had not yet read the petition and would do so before making any decision.
“I haven’t seen the petitions and I’m not aware of the language, but I want to stress again, Brisbane is a tolerant and diverse community and we need to do what we can to protect that, and to support the tolerance of diversity in our community,” he said.
“This is why we run a whole range of events and festivals, including in our libraries, to support a diverse and tolerant community.”
‘Tolerance and diversity’
A second petition, asking the council to keep hosting the drag storytime events, has also been launched.
“Residents ask that Brisbane City Council continues to acknowledge that our city is made up of beautifully diverse cultural backgrounds, lifestyles, experiences and beliefs,” it reads.
“Diverse sexualities and gender identities are part of that beauty. Therefore, Brisbane City Council should continue to support drag queen story times that foster values of inclusion, tolerance and diversity.
“Drag queen story time celebrates LGBTIQ+, Sistergirl and Brotherboy people who are part of Brisbane’s diverse communities, supporting learning and well-being.
“As child-appropriate events are staged by trained performers who are Blue Card–registered, we believe drag story time leads children to a love of reading and an appreciation of difference.”
The petition so far has more than 500 signatures, and will be open until 31 January.
If you or someone close to you needs someone to talk to, please contact one of these services:
Switchboard/QLife: 1800 184 527
Headspace: 1800 650 890
Beyond Blue 1300 224 636
Lifeline: 13 11 14