A drag queen story hour scheduled to be held at the library at Ramstein Air Base in Germany in honor of Pride month was abruptly cancelled by the command staff of the 86th Airlift Wing on Thursday.
According to Stars and Stripes, the 86th Air Wing’s public affairs sent a statement to a radical-right anti-LGBTQ news outlet in Canada, The Post Millennial, which had requested comment to its article about the event and also accused the Air Force of pushing a more “woke” agenda among servicemen.
“An advertisement was posted to the base library social media page before the event had completed Ramstein’s established processes for special observance coordination and approval,” the statement read. “The advertisement has been removed and the event will not take place. Ramstein leaders strive to foster a culture based on inclusion where all people are treated with dignity and respect, regardless of their political views, color of their skin or sexual orientation. The base’s established processes will ensure all future special observance events are properly reviewed and approved prior to advertisement.”
The Post Millennial’s story framed its reporting using hard-line right terms and descriptions of the LGBTQ community: “Drag Queen Story Hour has become a phenomenon in recent years, with men dressing up in clownish, garish costumes of women to read to children. Many drag queens have sexualized names, like Penny Tration.”
The conservative outlet also reported that one mom of a toddler, whose husband is stationed at the base, told The Post Millennial that while she often takes her child to the library for story time, she was “shocked to see the Ramstein Air Force Base Library plans to hold an official drag queen story hour for children.”
“I find it wholly inappropriate that the MILITARY of all places will be using public funds to sexualize children,” she said.
According to Stars and Stripes, the cancellation of the drag queen book reading drew mixed opinions from the Kaiserslautern Military Community, which encompasses Ramstein. With tens of thousands of Defense Department personnel and their families, it is the largest U.S. military community overseas.
An opponent of the wing’s decision launched a petition at Change.org to try to get the event reinstated.
“Now more [than] ever we need to show our support to our enlisted members and spouses in the face of blatant discrimination,” wrote the petition organizer, named Natalie Oyer, who described herself as spouse to a transgender wife.
“I don’t know if anything can bring back the events though,” Oyer wrote. “Most of the queens are enlisted.”
Stars and Stripes also reported that the 86th Airlift Wing, axed a separate drag karaoke event scheduled to be held at the base enlisted club, according to community members posting on social media sites.
In a press release Friday, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) took partial credit for the cancellation.
Rubio sent a letter to U.S. Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall regarding the Air Force Library at Ramstein Air Force Base hosting a “Drag Queen Story Time” event for young children of servicemembers. Rubio urged him to cancel the event, discipline the staff involved in planning and hosting the event, and respond to questions on whether other installations both at home and around the world have done similar events. Following receipt of Rubio’s letter, the Air Force canceled the event.
“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,” Rubio wrote.
The 86th Airlift Wing’s publics affairs office at Ramstein and the U.S. Air Force Public Affairs office at the Pentagon have not responded to a request for comment.