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Houston's drag queen story hour: KHOU tells us librarians let in a child molester. Who fought this?

Houston's drag queen story hour: KHOU tells us librarians let in a child molester. Who fought this?

I last wrote about drag queens reading stories to kids at public libraries about six weeks ago and now the story has taken off.

Someone –- we are not told who –- did some document digging as part of an ongoing campaign to stop drag queens from taking up space at the Houston Public Library and made an interesting discovery.

KHOU TV, the CBS affiliate in Houston tells us what that was:

HOUSTON — A registered child sex offender has been reading to children at Houston Public Library as part of its Drag Queen Storytime.

A group called Mass Resistance, which has been trying to put an end to the program, contacted KHOU about the child sex offender.

Mass Resistance claims it had been asking the City of Houston for months to disclose information about the drag queens, and when requests went unanswered, they did their own digging and made the shocking link.

The library has been trying to fix this PR disaster ever since.

A media spokesperson for the library confirmed one of the program’s drag queens, Tatiana Mala Nina, is Alberto Garza, a 32-year-old child sex offender. In 2008, he was convicted of assaulting an 8-year-old boy.

“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 (Sylvester) Turner!” said Tracy Shannon with Mass Resistance.

In a statement, the Houston Public Library admits they didn’t do a background check on Garza and said Garza will not be involved in any future library programs.

A photo of Garza in drag appears with this blog post. Despite this hiccup, the American Library Association isn’t dropping the idea of drag queen stories any time soon. See the ALA site’s resource page for libraries facing “challenges” with staging these events.

As this NBC-TV story points out, these story hours bring “pride and glamor” to libraries and have spread like wildfire across the nation in three short years. As the Brooklyn (N.Y.) library system says on its website: “Drag Queen Story Hour captures the imagination and play of the gender fluidity in childhood and gives kids glamorous, positive, and unabashedly queer role models.”

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Taking down Kim Burrell: Sermon on homosexuality gets quick, one-sided media react

Taking down Kim Burrell: Sermon on homosexuality gets quick, one-sided media react

When I read about pastor and entertainer Kim Burrell’s sermon where she called homosexuality “perverted,” I knew she was going to be made to pay for that and pay big.

Not only is her name mud in the entertainment world, but her recently launched radio show on a local Texas station just got cancelled.

Believe me, that will just be the beginning. What makes this so timely is that the movie, “Hidden Figures,” in which Burrell sings for the soundtrack is opening this week.

Here’s how the Los Angeles Times explained things:

Gospel singer Kim Burrell labeled homosexuality “perverted” in a sermon she gave in her other life as a Pentecostal preacher, quickly eliciting responses from both Pharrell Williams, with whom she sings on the “Hidden Figures” soundtrack, and two stars from that film, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monáe.
Burrell and Williams were originally scheduled to perform the soundtrack song “I See a Victory,” on which he is also a producer, on “The Ellen Show” on Thursday, with Monáe also slated to appear as a guest. But on Tuesday morning, show host Ellen DeGeneres announced on Twitter that Burrell would not join Monáe and Williams on Thursday’s show.

Then followed the withering tweet by DeGeneres and then:

“I came to tell you about sin,” Burrell said in the recent sermon at the Houston church she founded and where she is pastor, Love and Liberty Fellowship Church International. “That perverted homosexual spirit, and the spirit of delusion and confusion, it has deceived many men and women.”
A firestorm of criticism was touched off when video of the sermon began to circulate and Burrell took to Facebook Live to add, “There are a lot of people that I’m aware of that struggle or deal [with] or have that spirit. Have I discriminated against them? Have I ever outright told them that I don’t love you and you going to hell? … I don’t give that call.”

That and USA Today’s account were two of the less hysterical stories on the issue.

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God and public-school classrooms? These clashes are hard to report and that's a fact

God and public-school classrooms? These clashes are hard to report and that's a fact

Do you remember my post a few days ago about that Katy, Texas, public-classroom dispute between a teacher and a student named Jordan Wooley? That was the KHOU story about how this 12-year-old student -- on a critical-thinking test -- declined to give the correct answer, which was that "There is a God" was a statement of opinion, not fact.

This was the rare "culture wars" story of this kind in which journalists were able to do something other than quote angry parents, followed by silence from public-school officials or statements from their PR professionals stating that school officials are very sorry that parents have chosen to get upset about absolutely nothing.

In this case, they key was that young Wooley had a chance to stand up in public and speak her mind, in front of journalists and everybody else. That public forum seemed to push this story out of the usual news gridlock in which conservative media (and conservative activists with fundraising letters) quote the concerns of parents, while mainstream journalists (and liberal activists with fundraising letters) quote the views of school officials.

This leads us to the question on this week's Crossroads podcast: Why is it so hard for journalists to write stories in which voices on both sides are quoted, with respect, and allowed to dialogue about the alleged facts in these disputes? Click here to tune that in.

As I told host Todd Wilken, this KHOU story reminded me, in many ways, of the recent disputes here in Tennessee about class activities in which very young students are required to learn and even recite key elements of Muslim doctrine -- including the Shahadah, the prayer that someone recites in order to convert Islam.

As I noted in another recent post, most of the coverage I am seeing ignores the actual concerns of the parents and acts as if this is a dispute about studying the history of Islam, period. The key is the word "Shahadah." That term shows up in the "conservative" media reports, but not the mainstream stories.

But back to Houston. After I wrote my post about the KHOU report, The Houston Chronicle weighed in with an A1 story that (a) admitted that the conflict existed, (b) that there were clashes here in how two major forces in education view the word "fact" and (c) that these kinds of classroom conflicts are not going to go away.

Let's parse a bit of this Chronicle story:

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KHOU takes a quick, and sadly typical, trip into another public classroom culture war

KHOU takes a quick, and sadly typical, trip into another public classroom culture war

Rare is the week in which your GetReligionistas do not receive some kind of note from a reader pointing us toward a news report in which there are claims that conservative Christians have suffered some kind of discrimination at the hands of the agents of "political correctness," usually public-school officials.

It's pretty clear that the correspondents are primarily upset about the contents of the story, as opposed to the efforts of journalists to cover it. In other words, these readers want GetReligion to publicize or protest THIS CASE, as opposed to critique the coverage.

Now, don't get me wrong. Often the coverage of these stories is pretty lousy, and that's usually just as true in alternative "conservative" media as it is in the mainstream press.

The basic problem is one that reporters face all the time: Once the conflict begins, public officials tend to stop answering questions and hand things over to their public-relations teams. This leaves journalists with quotes from one side of the story -- the angry activists -- and that's that. Some journalists turn this around and only quote the public officials, thus assuming that the people complaining about discrimination are totally out of line and have no facts on their side.

A classic Catch-22.

Consider this recent story from KHOU about an all-too-typical conflict in a public-school classroom in Katy, Texas:

A Katy seventh grader has some strong accusations. She says her teacher asked the class to deny God exists.

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