Police called to library after protest at drag queen's story time

Protestors outside North Walsham Library after a story time with Titania Trust was popstponed.

Protestors outside North Walsham Library after a story time with Titania Trust was postponed - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Police were called to North Walsham Library after protestors demonstrated against a planned story time event for children by drag queen  'Auntie' Titania Trust.

Around 15 people gathered outside the library on Tuesday afternoon before the event was due to take place.

Norfolk County Council then decided to postpone the event, as well as another story time planned for Cromer Library on August 9.

Titania said: “Of course I am disappointed; I take all my appearances seriously with rehearsal and costume and sincerity. I have performed all over the country and it is a shame this response took place on home turf.

"My story time events are all about educating little ones about the world around them so they can be kind, courteous and supportive of their community - so they don’t turn out to be narrow minded trouble makers like those who stopped play today.

"If anything, [this has] spurred me on to carry on my quest with story time in many more places - today shows that it is needed.”

The story time event was organised by Joseph Ballard, director of the theatre group New Stages.

A Norfolk Police spokesperson said: "We attended and engaged with two people who were protesting peacefully at North Walsham Library."

Among the protestors was Chris Mitchell, 32 and from Caistor. Although he is not a parent himself, Mr Mitchell said he thought drag queens reading stories to children was wrong. 

He said: "It's not acceptable to be teaching our children.

"We're taxpayers and this is a public library, if parents really want to take their children to see something like this, they should fund it themselves. 

Storytime with Auntie Titania is coming to two north Norfolk libraries.

Storytime with Auntie Titania is coming to two north Norfolk libraries. - Credit: Supplied

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"We should let kids be kids. If boys want to dress up as women when they're older then fair enough, but they should not be exposed to stuff like this at such a young age."

Councillor Margaret Dewsbury, the county councillor's cabinet member for communities and partnerships, said she shared Titania's disappointment about the event not going ahead. 

Ms Dewsbury said: "Titania Trust has delivered story time events at other locations, including the Millennium Library in Norwich, and always received a warm welcome and positive responses from children and families alike.

"However we always put the safety and wellbeing of our service users first and sadly the acts of a small number of people have forced us to postpone on this occasion."

More action needed: Pride group speaks out

The group Norwich Pride has spoken out against the protestors and called on Ms Dewsbury to do more to uphold the 'Pride Pledge', which she signed in 2020.

They said on social media: "We as a group call on councillor Dewsbury to act and to uphold the pledge that she signed.

Margaret Dewsbury, chair of Norfolk County Council's communities committee. Pic: Sean Owen (Reflecti

Margaret Dewsbury, chair of Norfolk County Council's communities committee. Pic: Sean Owen (Reflective Arts) - Credit: Sean Owen (Reflective Arts)

"The trustees of Norwich Pride will be writing a letter of solidarity to Joe, Titiana, New Stages and North Walsham Library.

"Please do feel empowered to send solidarity or indeed complaints to the relevant people and places."

The incident follows the cancellation of another drag queen story time event in Bristol on July 29, also due to "safety concerns".