Council member faces backlash after criticizing drag queen program

Council Member Vickie Paladino has apologized after coming under fire for criticizing Drag Queen Story Hour – a nonprofit that brings fully dressed drag queens to schools, libraries, and parks for reading programs.
Paladino sent out a series of tweets in response to an article saying how much money the city spent on the program, which she alluded to the program “grooming and sexualizing children.”
These tweets drew criticism from fellow Council Member Chi Osse, a member of the LGBTQIA+ caucus, and Council Speaker Adrienne Adams.
In a public statement on Friday, Paladino said her statements were not intended as a personal attack or accusation against any of her colleagues or community, but she emphasized that she would not be retracting or apologizing for her comments about using taxpayer money to fund the program throughout city public schools.
In this year’s budget, Drag Queen Story Hour received $60,000 from the city’s discretionary funding – allocated by specific members of the City Council. This was a $15,000 increase from last year.
The group behind the program says the increase in funds will go to expanding the program to schools and libraries in low-income neighborhoods.