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As part of a project to spread a message of tolerance and kindness, children at The London Early Years Foundation (LEYF) nurseries will be read stories by drag queens.
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 will take place across seven nurseries in London – with a view to a wider roll-out across its 37 early years settings in the near future.
June O’Sullivan, chief executive of The London Early Years Foundation, said: “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.”
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.
Activities such as story-time, a Halloween drag disco, face painting and high tea have all been confirmed and met with the full support of nursery teachers.
Drag queen Aida Dee has already visited LEYF’s nursery in Soho for their first story time. Aida read two stories to the children aged between two- and five-years-old, and was complimented extensively, being told that she ‘looks very pretty’.
Greg Stewart Lane, manager at LEYF’s Soho Nursery and co-ordinator of the events, added: “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 2015 and 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.