A drag queen who participated in a public library’s storytime for children is a registered child sex offender, a revelation that went unnoticed by those running the program.
The sex offender, 32-year-old Alberto Garza, was convicted of sexually assaulting an eight-year-old boy in 2008. He had been participating under the stage name “Tatiana Mala Nina” in “Drag Queen Storytime” at the Houston Public Library.
Garza’s past was not uncovered by the Houston Public Library, nor the City of Houston (which supports the program), nor the group that organizes “Drag Queen Storytime.” His criminal record was revealed by a citizens’ group that has been fighting to end the storytime activity at the library.
Mass Resistance, a conservative group that has been trying to put an end to the program, contacted Houston TV station KHOU about the drag queen sex offender.
The group has been waging a high-profile public battle to stop the activity, calling it inappropriate for children. For months, they have also been asking the City of Houston for more information about the drag queens reading to children. However, Mayor Sylvester Turner (a Democrat), has openly supported the drag queens and dismissed critics. The library,under the city’s control, did not conduct background checks on the drag queens in the program.
Tracy Shannon with Mass Resistance blasted the mayor for allowing it to happen. “Most parents would not allow that individual to sit in this library and be held up as a role model to our children. Shame on you, Mayor Turner!”
The library apologized for not vetting the drag queens, despite using the storytime for publicity with national media as a sign of tolerance. “In our review of our process and of this participant, we discovered that we failed to complete a background check as required by our own guidelines,” the library said. “We deeply regret this oversight and the concern this may cause our customers. We realize this is a serious matter.”
Shannon, however, is not satisfied. “If they had done their job and due diligence, if they had said wait…maybe it’s not a good idea to have a sex offender who at 200 pounds and 5-foot-11 assaulted an 8-year-old boy!” she said. “We may not all agree that having adult entertainers is the right way to entertain young children or promote literacy and adversity and acceptance and inclusion, but we can all agree that it’s inappropriate to have a sex offender. And for someone to not do their due diligence, to have a sex offender entertaining children at the library.”
Mass Resistance tried unsuccessfully to sue Houston to end the program, but a judge threw out the suit in January. The Houston Public Library apologized for not running a background check, and said Garza would not continue with the program.
They also said library staff supervise each storytime activity, and claim children were never left alone with anyone reading to them. They claim to have received no complaints about inappropriate behavior by the drag queens.
The library said the program will continue.
Drag Queen Storytime is a national program which places volunteer drag queens in libraries to read LGBTQ-friendly books to children.
Here is a report from KHOU in Houston on the drag queen sex offender.
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