How drag queen story hour is helping children grow during the pandemic

Through storytelling, these Drag Queens are teaching kids about gender diversity and difference, building empathy, and giving kids the confidence to express themselves. Drag Queen Story Hour NYC is a nonprofit organization that provides a range of fun experiences for children and teens in both spanish and english. Due to the pandemic, LGBTQ+ youth are facing disproportionate mental health challenges due to being isolated from peers and school support systems. That’s why Drag Queen Story Hour public programming is now more important than ever.

Video Transcript

CHOLULA LEMON: We really believe in the idea of teaching empathy to kids at an early age. And what that looks like is celebrating differences. My name is to Cholula Lemon, and I am a New York City drag queen.

Drag Queen Story Hour is a non-profit organization that provides fun and fabulous educational experiences for kids of all ages.

- Do you all have any ideas what [INAUDIBLE] might mean?

- A princess potato.

- A princess potato.

CHOLULA LEMON: We use storytelling to teach kids about acceptance, gender diversity, and family diversity. I've been involved with the program for three years. We have chapters all across the US and globally as well. It's really beautiful how quickly it's grown. Kids really can identify with playing dress up, and with creating a character.

You know, stories are how we learn about so many things. We learn about our values, we learn about the world beyond. I really wish this kind of programming existed when I was a kid.

I grew up in Texas, in South Texas in a very conservative household. Drag to me is about liberation. Drag is about dismantling the construct of the binary. I think it's important for kids to see that. From a very young age we sort of condition them to be this or that, like masculine and feminine. But introducing children to the idea of drag really is what Drag Queen Story Hour is about.

We have gotten some pushback. For example, in the South or in the Midwest. Conservative people typically have their own view set, especially of the queer community. So what we say to them is this is elective programming. Even though it is happening in a public institution, you don't have to come to this programming.

Because of COVID, we've had to turn to virtual programming. We do Instagram Live, or Facebook Live.

It's been wonderful seeing the reception that we've gotten from schools and from the library systems. This is the kind of programming that keeps people's spirits alive and uplifted as well.

What we hope that children gain from attending Drag Queen Story Hour is that they get to celebrate themselves and celebrate others as they are. And even if they feel different, that they feel accepted, and seen, and loved, and appreciated.