The Houston Public Library has apologized to parents after a man who volunteered to read to kids during "Drag Queen Storytime" turned out to be a sex offender charged with assaulting a child. What are the odds?
Albert Alfonso Garza - a volunteer drag queen associated with the Houston Public Library program, who performs as Tatiana Mala Nina - was charged with child sex assault on an eight-year-old boy in 2008, according to Mass Resistance, a group that has protested the Drag Queen Storytime program.
The library admitted they had hadn't run a background check on Garza and issued a statement saying they are very sorry and promising never to do it again, though some protesters want more than an apology.
"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!" said Tracy Shannon, a member of Mass Resistance.
"No participant is ever alone with children, and we have not received any complaints about any inappropriate behavior by participants at storytimes," the statement, cited by media, read, assuring parents that the library is taking "appropriate action" to ensure all other participants are "verified."
The library declined to elaborate on whether participants are normally subjected to a criminal background check, or what "verification" entails, but assured parents that "this participant will not be involved in any future HPL programs."
"Appropriate action is being taken to ensure every participant in every program is verified to ensure similar incidents cannot happen in the future," they added.
In January, a gun-toting protester previously banned from the library was arrested after refusing to leave the premises as staff prepared for the monthly Drag Queen Story Hour event. The program launched in 2017 at the Montrose branch, ostensibly to teach children "to embrace gender diversity in themselves and in others" and has met with considerable resistance from locals, including lawsuits, petitions, and protests.
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