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.
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.
“In our review of our process and of this participant, we discovered that we failed to complete a background check as required by our own guidelines,” the library said in a statement. “We deeply regret this oversight and the concern this may cause our customers. We realize this is a serious matter.”
Protesters say they want more than apologies; they want heads to roll.
“If they had done their job and due diligence, if they had said wait...maybe it’s not a good idea to have a sex offender who at 200 pounds and 5-foot-11 assaulted an 8-year-old boy!” Shannon said.
Drag Queen Storytime’s creators say it’s part of a national program that aims to promote love and acceptance.
In October, opponents sued the library system and Mayor Turner, trying to stop the program. They claim they’re not against the LGBTQ community, but instead, the library’s actions. The lawsuit was dismissed by a judge in January.
Plaintiffs argued the program favors “secular humanism," violating the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause on religion.
“We may not all agree that having adult entertainers is the right way to entertain young children or promote literacy and adversity and acceptance and inclusion,” Shannon said, “but we can all agree that it’s inappropriate to have a sex offender. And for someone to not do their due diligence, to have a sex offender entertaining children at the library."
Houston Public Library released the following statement:
“We were made aware today that one participant for Drag Queen storytime who read at the September 29, 2018, Drag Queen Storytime has a criminal background that should have prevented him from participating in the program.
“We assure you that this participant will not be involved in any future HPL programs.
“In our review of our process and of this participant, we discovered that we failed to complete a background check as required by our own guidelines. We deeply regret this oversight and the concern this may cause our customers. We realize this is a serious matter.
“Every program sponsored by HPL is supervised by HPL staff, and all children are accompanied by a parent and/or guardian. No participant is ever alone with children, and we have not received any complaints about any inappropriate behavior by participants at storytimes.
“We are taking the appropriate action to ensure that the status of every participant in every program throughout our system is verified. We will continue to review our process to ensure that this cannot happen again.
“Once again, we apologize for our failure to adhere to our own process in this matter and to the hundreds of parents and caregivers who have enjoyed this program with their children.”