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Furious Critics Accuse Montana Zoo of 'Grooming Children' and 'Pedophilia' with Drag Queen Story Time

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Despite public pushback, a zoo in Montana has announced it will host a so-called "family-friendly" Drag Queen Story Hour because it "prides itself in being inclusive of all living beings."

American Family News reports ZooMontana, a 70-acre wildlife park in Billings, is hosting a Drag Queen Story Hour event on June 22.

In a recent Facebook post, Jeff Ewelt, the zoo's executive director, wrote: "406 Pride is a respected and valued community asset, one we are proud to support and host at ZooMontana. While personal threats and threats of no longer supporting the Zoo are concerning, we will not let unwarranted fear and hate deter our decision to move forward with this harmless and fun reading event that is held throughout the country."

Pride 406, an LGBTQ+ organization, is sponsoring "Billings Pride 2022," a series of pride month events scheduled in the city from June 20-26.

Posted to the group's website is the schedule for the Drag Queen Story Hour at ZooMontana on June 22. 

"Want to come hang out with some Drag Queens while they read awesome books and then go check out the zoo for reduced admission? Then this family-friendly event is for you! From 12-4pm, ZooMontana is generously offering $4/person admission for those who attend the Drag Queen Story event - just give the password "Fierce!" the website reads. 

But in response, several members of the Billings community have said they will never visit or support the zoo again due to its decision to host a gender-bending event that's aimed at children. 

"Why are we putting such a contentious issue right in the heart of that area?" Jenna McKinney, the founder of Billings-based Montana Family Rights Alliance, asked during a telephone interview with MTM News

"This is not appropriate. We really don't appreciate this in our community and especially at this venue," McKinney said. 

"To put something like this in the heart of a place for small children is just wrong," she added. 

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Montana Republican Sen. Steve Daines is also weighing in about the zoo's decision to host the controversial, cross-dressing promotion. "Montana kids deserve better than story time with a drag show," he tweeted. "Let's let kids be kids, not tools of this destructive woke ideology."

U.S. Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-Montana) recently told conservative commentator, Todd Starnes, that he had heard from many of his constituents and they are "deeply disturbed" that the zoo is hosting such an event. 

"A lot of them are supporters of Zoo Montana," Rosendale said. "And I will tell you that there was more discussions about pulling their support from Zoo Montana based upon this very strange and outlandish plan that they have to expose children to such perverted sexual acts. It's just very bothersome and disappointing, quite frankly."

The congressman told Starnes he thought such "Drag Story Hour" events were examples of "grooming."

"I'm sorry, this is a classic example of grooming these children and having them have discussions about sexuality that they should not be exposed to," Rosendale said. "And anyone that thinks that is somewhere short of child abuse is wrong. It's very close to pedophilia as far as I'm concerned."

But despite the backlash, Ewelt told MTM News, that the event will go on. 

"In this particular event, the Drag Queen Story Hour, it's something that happens across the country and actually has rave reviews," he said. "It is not a burlesque show. It is literally somebody sitting in a chair reading a book."

The outlet also reported a person with the name "Anita Shadow" will be one of two drag queens reading to the children. The drag queen said the books being read will be age-appropriate and "not anything that is specifically aimed towards an LGBTQ+ group or anything of that sort. Just something that's enjoyable."

Drag Queen Events Being Aimed at Kids All Over America

As CBN News has reported over the last several years, Drag Queen Story Hour events have been hosted across the country by public libraries, and schools, and have even been promoted by some politicians even though such events target young children. 

Just this week, parents of New York City public school children were furious after finding out that the city has given hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxpayer money to support drag queen shows without their consent.

The New York Post cited city records showing that Drag Story Hour NYC, previously known as Drag Queen Story Hour NYC, has received $207,000 in taxpayer funding since 2018.

This year alone, Drag Story Hour NYC has appeared in 49 programs at 34 public schools in New York City, according to its website. 

Some parents are outraged that their children, who are as young as 3, are being exposed to drag queens wearing skin-tight dresses and gobs of makeup. 

"I can't believe this. I am shocked," Helen Qiu, the mother of a Manhattan middle school student, told The Post. "I would be furious if he was exposed without my consent. This is not part of the curriculum." 

Queens City Council member Vicki Paladino (R) was irate over the news of the city's drag queen payments. 

"I am considering pulling funding to any school in my district that is implementing Drag Queen Story Hour," Paladino said. "We are taking hundreds of thousands of dollars out of the pockets of hardworking New York taxpayers … to fund a program teaching little children about their gender fluidity? Not. On. My. Watch."

Drag Queen Show for Kids on a US Air Force Base?

As CBN News reported in late May, a U.S. Air Force base in Germany canceled a "Drag Queen Story Time" event after Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) strongly urged against placing "children in a sexualized environment."

The storytime was scheduled for June 2 in a library at Ramstein Air Force Base and was offered to the young children of service members.

Rubio sent a letter to Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall saying, "The last thing parents serving their nation overseas should be worried about, particularly in a theater with heightened geopolitical tensions, is whether their children are being exposed to sexually charged content simply because they visited their local library."

He said the library at Ramstein AFB has hosted similar events in the past, then asked Kendall to explain, "how many instances of events involving drag queens spending time around children have occurred" in government-sponsored events on U.S. military bases?

Some politicians have even promoted Drag Queen Story Hour events on social media. 

Democrat Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney, who represents New York's 12th District, tweeted her praise of such transgender events aimed at young children in April. 

"Across the country, books are being banned, which are depriving our nation's youth. But thanks to @NYPL and programs like Drag Queen story hour, NYC's next generation are getting a well rounded education about LGBTQ+ issues and gender identity," Maloney wrote. 

The Drag Queen Story Hour website lists independent chapters located in 27 states and in the District of Columbia. According to the website, the story hour "captures the imagination and play of the gender fluidity of childhood and gives kids glamorous, positive, and unabashedly queer role models."

Ties to Child Abuse?

Last December, a Milwaukee County Children's Court judge named Brett Blomme, who had previously led an LGBT activist group that funded Drag Queen Story Hour, was convicted of child pornography and sentenced to nine years in jail.

In sentencing, U.S. District Judge James D. Peterson described Blomme's child porn activities as the "worst of the worst," especially since he was a Children's Court judge. 

And CBN News previously reported in 2019 that several of the "drag queens" involved in reading stories to children at a local library in Houston were exposed as convicted child sex offenders.

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About The Author

Steve Warren is a senior multimedia producer for CBN News. Warren has worked in the news departments of television stations and cable networks across the country. In addition, he also worked as a producer-director in television production and on-air promotion. A Civil War historian, he authored the book The Second Battle of Cabin Creek: Brilliant Victory. It was the companion book to the television documentary titled Last Raid at Cabin Creek currently streaming on Amazon Prime. He holds an M.A. in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma and a B.A. in Communication from the University of