London Early Years Foundation (LEYF) has teamed up with Drag Queen Story Time (DQST) to connect children and drag queens through a programme of storytelling and interactive events.
The project, which aims to teach children of all ages to spread a message of tolerance and kindness, will take place across seven LEYF nurseries in London with a view to a wider rollout across its 37 early years settings in the future.
Activities such as storytime, a Halloween drag disco, face painting and high tea have all been confirmed.
Events scheduled so far will take place in the nursery group’s Peckham, Marylebone, Soho, Greenwich, Royal Oak, Oval and Bayswater settings, and will run on various dates until February 2018.
Greg Stewart Lane, manager at LEYF’s Soho Nursery and co-ordinator of the events, said, ‘With recent reports showing that the number of hate crimes in England and Wales has increased by 29 per cent, sadly we live in a world where people face homophobia, racism and general discrimination on a daily basis.
‘Yet these are all learnt behaviours – we aren’t born with any form of hatred, you get taught it over time. If events like DQST can help curtail this and teach children about tolerance and kindness then that has to be a good thing.’
DQST was founded in San Francisco in 2015 by writer Michelle Tea and Radar Productions. It focuses on conventional fairy tales aimed at young children, read by drag queens in nurseries, schools, libraries and bookshops.
The organisation’s aim is to challenge negative views at a young age, providing an alternative view of tolerance and kindness within an educational environment.
June O’Sullivan, chief executive of LEYF, added, ‘All of our nurseries are geared to giving children the best and equal start in life no matter what their background is. DQST is all about opening our doors so that every single member of our community is included and we fully embrace this.
‘By providing spaces in which children are able to see people who defy rigid gender restrictions, it allows them to imagine the world in which people can present as they wish.’