Bristol Drag Queen Story Hour targeted by protesters as police are called to libraries

Anti-drag protesters claim the event ‘sexualises children’

A drag queen ‘story hour’ for children descended into chaos as anti-drag protesters gathered outside two Bristol libraries to hurl abuse at the event’s performer.

A counter-protest held in support of Aida H Dee was also staged and saw a large group of people clash outside Henleaze, Hillfields and Stockwood libraries this afternoon (Thursday, July 28).

The ruckus broke out over Aida’s The Storytime Drag Queen summer tour, which has arrived in Bristol for sessions today and tomorrow (July 29).

One group of protesters claim the event is ‘sexualising children’, while another argues that drag is art.

Police at the protest at Henleaze Library

Footage shows people on either side of the fence screaming at each other. Some hold signs aloft saying ‘stop sexualising our children’.

It follows a demonstration over the same event at Reading Library which saw a group interrupt the story session as it went on inside the venue earlier this week.

Aida is from Bristol herself and attended St Brendan’s College. It is understood that she and library social media accounts received abuse online ahead of the event.

Police keep an eye at the centre of the protest outside Hillfields Library

The protests led to Aida not carrying out the reading session at Henleaze Library - the first of the day’s events. Instead, a member of staff read to children.

However, Aida was able to read to children at both Hillfields and Stockwood libraries while protesters were outside.

A protester outside Henleaze Library where Aida did not lead the session

Bristol City Council, which runs the city’s library service, has been quick to defend the event, which it said offered children ‘a rich experience in storytelling in an interactiveway, as well as an understanding of different communities’.

“Lessons like this are how we can create a more inclusive society, and educate children about tolerance and difference,” the authority’s statement added. “Unfortunately, it seems some adults need these lessons too.

“As well as unacceptable abuse online, some people have decided to protest at our libraries. We have put security in place and there’s a police presence to reduce the risk of threatening behaviour towards the artists involved, our staff, and the parents and children.

“We will not tolerate any discrimination or abuse aimed at any community and will not stop striving towards creating a more inclusive society, that welcomes difference.”

An anti-drag protester holds a sign aloft that says ‘stop sexualising our children’.

A spokesperson for Avon and Somerset Police said: “Police attended Henleaze library this morning, Thursday 28 July.“A protest is taking place about a drag queen reading a children’s story and a counter-protest is also being staged.

“Officers are there to facilitate peaceful protest and enable library staff and visitors, the event organisers and the wider community to go about their lawful business.”