SEVERAL police officers maintained order as around 50 protestors turned out to demonstrate at a children's storytime in two Somerset libraries.

Opponents of the Drag Queen Story Hour, some of them wearing masks, claimed the event amounted to 'a form of child grooming' with the aim of 'sexualising our children'.

But one of the supporters, some of whom waved LGBTQ+ flags at the sessions in Frome and Glastonbury yesterday (Monday, August 22), said people enjoy taking their children to pantomimes, where the dame is essentially an actor in drag.

A grandfather opposed to the readings aimed at three- to 11-year-olds said: "In my opinion adult sex workers and adult entertainers have no place in a child's mind or imagination.

"Unfortunately, not everyone agrees, but I consider this to be child grooming and a perversion of a child's innocence."

He added: "Why couldn't a children's entertainer be used to deliver whatever message, if any worth receiving, was being delivered?

"I am sure the majority of sane council taxpayers would not agree to this adult world being taken to a child's world."

Libby Page took to Facebook to say she was "gutted" by the protest.

She added: "I had wanted to take my baby but was told it was aimed at older children.

"But I love the concept and also want my son to know he can grow up to be whoever he wants."

Kathryn posted that critics of the event probably took their children to pantos, where the dame is usually a man dressed as a woman.

An Avon and Somerset Police spokesperson said: "Neighbourhood officers attended Glastonbury and Frome libraries yesterday following protests at similar events across the country, including at libraries in Bristol last month.

"About 50 protestors attended, including those in support of the events and those opposed to them.

"Officers and PCSOs were there in order to facilitate peaceful protest. There were no arrests."

A spokesperson for Drag Queen Story Hour UK said the event is "appropriate and well suited for the advertised age groups by professional children's entertainers and literary fanatics".

They added: "Every performer is DBS checked, and are put through training to ensure that not only the story-tellings are safe, but fun too.

"Drag Queen Story Hour UK performances are not night-time cabarets, and to assume all drag shows are for adult audiences is an extremely limiting point of view.

"DQSHUK performances are very similar to pantomimes, except they are explicitly literacy-focused and support inclusivity in communities and an interest in reading."

The tour is performed by Aida H Dee The Storytime Drag Queen, an author of two children's books who has appeared as an official act for The British Museum during The Queen's Jubilee and at the Edinburgh Fringe festival.

The spokesperson added: "Parents who have attended previous performances at other libraries in the country have shared very positive feedback about the event, its suitability for younger audiences, and their children’s enjoyment of it.

"The nature of the event is clearly advertised, and we believe will attract those who feel comfortable and positive about its content."

Aida said it is concerning that some parent groups choose to "sexualise situations that are not at all sexual".

She added: "There is absolutely no sexual language during any of these shows nor are children exposed to sexual situations.

"What is confusing is that these groups are attempting to create a sexual focus here where none exists by drawing attention to sex and sexuality.

"These stories celebrate the diversity found among human beings, and the delivery of these stories is a celebration of communities who have been historically marginalised and have historically had their voices silenced.

"To attempt to silence their voices here as well is regressive and to claim a person's sole existence is sexual is insulting."

We have approached Somerset County Council for a comment.