Georges River Council defends drag queen story time at Kogarah Library

Georges River Council has defended allowing a drag queen to visit Kogarah Library as part of a Rainbow Story Time event for preschoolers.

The council has rejected criticism that the Rainbow Story Time event with drag queen Charisma Belle was unsuitable for children and said it was prepared to host similar events in the future.

The story time event featured prominent member of the LGBTQIA community Nathan Powter, who is also known as Charisma Belle, and is a dancer, producer, choreographer and actor who has performed at Sydney Mardi Gras and venues throughout Australia.

But One Nation NSW Upper House MP Mark Latham has criticised the council hosting Story Time with a drag queen.

"The drag queen program is not appropriate for young people in schools," Mr Latham said.

"I don't think it's appropriate for young people in municipal libraries."

Charisma Belle also visited Kogarah Library as part of Harmony Day last March. Picture: @charismabelle, Instagram

Charisma Belle also visited Kogarah Library as part of Harmony Day last March. Picture: @charismabelle, Instagram

Mr Latham said the program was a "backdoor" way of reintroducing the Safe Schools program pushing for greater inclusion for LGBTIQ students.

"It's highly appropriate for the Education Minister to issue a general directive through NSW schools they must not be part of school libraries," he said.

But the council has defended its Story Time program.

"Due to popular demand, Council will continue to host Story Time events that include storytellers from a range of diverse backgrounds including drag queens, indigenous, LGBTQI and CALD community members and disabled people," a council spokesperson said.

"These events provide families with an opportunity to experience positive and inclusive role models in a fun environment, and have proved to be enormously popular with our community."

"Parents and/or carers are expected to be in attendance for all library Story Time events," the spokesperson said.

The council said that drag queens and other performers who dress in costume were unsuitable entertainment for children.

"Performers who conduct story time dressed in costume (such as drag queens, clowns, mascots, etc) are not considered to be adult entertainment and Council rejects the suggestion that our story tellers are in any way unsuitable for children," the council spokesperson said.

"In the past two years Council's Rainbow Story Time events have been consistently booked out by parents and carers weeks in advance due to overwhelming demand.

"Council understands the importance of recognising and embracing the rich diversity that exists within our community. The promotion of environments that are visibly welcoming and inclusive of different communities will continue into the future.

Charisma Belle also visited Kogarah Library as part of Harmony Day in March along with Paralympian swimmer Ben Austin, and an Aboriginal elder Aunty Jo who shared their own stories to give an insight into the life of others.

The aim of the Living Library is to start conversations that challenge assumptions, prejudices and stereotypes.