FORT SMITH, Ark. – A handful of state lawmakers are pushing back as a public university gets set to host an event called “Drag Queen Story Time.”
The event is scheduled for tomorrow at the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith. It’s billed as a way to de-stress before tests. The guest reader will be Miss Chloe Jacobs, a drag queen from Little Rock, but it doesn’t sit well with some people including at least two state senators.
By day Evan Jacobs is a hair dresser, but on weekend nights, he transforms into drag queen Chloe Jacobs, Miss Gay Arkansas 2018.
“My platform this year is suicide prevention,” says Jacobs.
As a way to be part of the community in the state he is from, Evan was asked to read books for a drag queen story hour taking place place at UAFS library on Friday.
“Just kind of something fun for them to do and different,” says Jacobs. “I think they’re just trying it out to see how it goes.”
On Tuesday Arkansas Senator Jason Rapert shared the event on his official Facebook page along with a message about his disapproval reading in part, “I apologize to the citizens of Arkansas for the ridiculous waste of taxpayer funds by UAFS for promoting this rubbish. I certainly do not support it.”
Senator Bob Ballinger also speaking in opposition.
“I think it really is an effort to desensitize people from the norms of what would be traditional values and ideas that is fundamental to making our country great.” Senator Ballinger also adds “that should be their right to have it as long as state resources and state approval is not going to it.”
UAFS released a statement addressing the controversy saying:
“The event was coordinated by a registered student organization on our campus and no university or tax payer dollars were used to bring the speaker to the story time event.”
“I don’t understand where all of this is coming from,” says Jacobs. He agreed to the event to celebrate diversity, tolerance and acceptance and as a way to include those who might not usually be included.
“We’re people too,” says Jacobs. “You know, if it was me as Evan you’d never hear about this, but as Chloe, you’re seeing it.”
Senator Jason Rapert sent us a full statement in response to the story which is below.
“A concerned citizen informed me of the “Drag Queen Storytime (sic)” event being held at the University of Arkansas Fort Smith Library a few days ago. I inquired about the event with the University of Arkansas Government Relations team and asked for clarification. The event had been advertised on the UAFS library Facebook page as an event including the UAFS logo. I have been informed that the use of the UAFS logo was not properly authorized on flyers for the event and neither was the posting of the UAFS logo on the digital invitation on Facebook. I am told that UAFS has not sponsored nor endorsed this event and they are requesting all references to them be removed. After hearing from many Arkansas taxpayers that they object to their taxpayer dollars being used to support an event like this – this is all very good news. I appreciate the University of Arkansas system for clarifying that they do not endorse or support the kind of event on their campus. It is worth noting that the national movement to host “Drag Queen Storytime (sic) or Story Hour” events is intentionally targeting children and I find this objectionable. I have read reports that indicate these events are specifically held to groom young children to embrace LGBTQ lifestyles. The vast majority of people in Arkansas and America disagrees. We should be mentoring our youth to become young men of character and young women of virtue in my opinion.”
– Sen. Jason Rapert, Co-Chair ALC Higher Education Subcommittee