Library Tea Party Event Draws Fire



Jones Library News Highlights For The Week Of February 13, 2023

Public Commenter Requests Vetting Of Tea Party Guest Giganta Smalls
During the public comment period of the February 14 meeting of the Jones Library Board of Trustees Carole Hinkley raised personal concerns about an event scheduled for Saturday, February 18 listed as Library Tea Party With Special Guest Giganta Smalls (ages 4-9).

Hinkley, who did not specify where she was from, asked if the library had checked into the background of Drag Queen Giganta Smalls and went on to attribute social media posts to Smalls that Hinckley felt contained questionable messaging for young children.  She cited a Facebook video for an adult event, an Instagram entry and a posting on a Belchertown forum that “referenced 22 different queer gay drag queen groups.”  Hinkley elaborated on her concerns stating, “[the event announcement] says come celebrate being yourselves, but you have a drag queen man dressing up as a woman and isn’t this confusing to four to nine-year-olds?”

Online searches by The Amherst Indy failed to turn up the social media posts that Hinkley described.


Library Director Sharon Sharry explained that the Tea Party program was organized by Children’s Librarian Mia Cabana with help from a library employee who is friends with Giganta Smalls.  Sharry related how the Jones Library Tea Party has evolved over the years, originating as an American Girl doll tea party.

“American Girl dolls are very expensive and so over time the Children’s Department has tried to make this event more inclusive,” Sharry said.

She read from a staff blurb explaining why there is a drag queen this year. “The foundation of Drag Story Hour is to introduce the concept of questioning gender norms in a society that historically prioritizes the heterosexual lifestyle. Drag Queen story time also promotes creativity, self-expression, and play.  Drag is simply another form of dress up and cosplay.”

Trustee Lee Edwards pointed out that Drag Queen Story Hours are a phenomenon that has been going through libraries all across the country for close to seven years.

Drag Queen Story Hours have in fact been conducted in a number of New England public libraries including in Hartford, Brattleboro and Boston. Unfortunately, these events have not been without incident.

A mask-wearing neo-Nazi group known as NSC-131 interrupted a January story hour at the Taunton Public Library according to an account on   Business Insider reports that the right-wing male organization Proud Boys protested Drag Story Hours 18 times across the U.S. last year.

After New York congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez plugged a Jackson Heights Drag Story Hour on Instagram, tipped off protesters targeted the event.

In 2022 the trustees of the Whiting Library in Chester, VT pressed pause on a scheduled Drag Queen Story Hour, prompting the library director to resign. A Drag Story Hour in Fall River earlier this year drew a small protest which was countered by a larger gathering of demonstrators supporting the LGBTQ+ community.

To guard against a negative experience for children and parents, an organization called Parasol Patrol will be supporting the Jones Library event.  The group attends Drag Queen Story Hours and responds to homophobic shouts and signs by singing and raising large rainbow umbrellas.

Trustee Objects To Editorializing In Meeting Minutes
Asked to approve the minutes of the December 14 Board meeting, trustee Bob Pam objected that “the minutes go somewhat beyond what we actually discussed there and becomes in part an editorial  on what it is we can or should do.”

Trustee Alex Lefebvre, who had served as scribe, had recounted the Buildings and Facilities Committee’s view toward a repairs-only “Plan B” in case the Library building project proves unaffordable by writing, “Plan B is not likely to be a net zero design as the cost would be too high. We already know the cost to the town for repair work as provided by WBI and Kuhn Riddle would be in excess of the cost to the town for the renovation and expansion. The only current opportunity that exists for a more sustainable design is the renovation and expansion as the addition is what allows for the increased efficiency of the building to get to a net zero ready design.”

Lefebvre, who also serves as chair of the Buildings and Facilities Committee responded, “It’s what I said.”

Pam, who has argued that trustee responsibility dictates taking development of a Plan B more seriously answered, “Actually it went somewhere beyond what you said.”

[See related Letter: The Jones Library Should Go To School]

Board Chair Austin Sarat offered Pam the option of moving to amend the minutes.

Pam conceded, “Since it will be voted down, I will not go further, but I’ve objected.”

Designer Recommendation Of Exterior Hardie Board Leaves Building Committee Unexcited
On Thursday Finegold Alexander Architects (FAA) presented recommendations for the most cost-effective materials to use on the exterior of the new library.  They proposed using a shade of gray brick on the main walls and a standing seam metal roof.  For the areas surrounding large glass windows on the rear addition FAA recommends using a synthetic composite of cement, sand and cellulose fibers called Hardie Board.

While considerably cheaper than the metal paneling proposed in the original design, Hardie Board carries the disadvantage of requiring maintenance such as painting or cleaning after a number of years.

Owner’s Project Manager Craig DiCarlo of Colliers showed a photo of the Consigli Construction Corporate Headquarters which features an addition with a Hardie Board-type exterior attached to a historic masonry building.  He acknowledged that the fifteen-year-old exterior panels show some signs of streaking.

Hardie Board-type material on Consigli Construction Headquarters. Photo:

From a distance the material can almost pass for stone panel, DiCarlo said, but as you get closer you realize that it is a composite material with exposed fasteners.

Regarding the material’s sturdiness, he said, “If you took a hammer to it, you could probably put a hole through it,” but he advised that it would resist denting in a hailstorm better than metal paneling.

After seeing the photo, Finance Director Sean Mangano commented, “Craig, just to be clear is the objective of this visual [to show] that aesthetically it doesn’t look great when you have a big a bunch of it all together?”

DiCarlo replied that he had no ulterior motive but to show an example of a building with a Hardie Board treatment.  He assured that the use of Hardie Board on the Jones Library project would be limited, but added, “I would tend to agree with you that a whole lot of it uninterrupted is not necessarily what the library’s going for.”

Proposed library exterior. #2 marks Hardie Board section. Photo:
Spread the love

11 thoughts on “Library Tea Party Event Draws Fire

  1. I agree with Carol Hinckley about concerns for the social media postings of Giganta Smalls. They are easily accessible by looking on Instagram. Clearly this person is more aligned with adult interests, considering the content of the posts.

  2. While I am fine having a drag queen come to the library for an event, I question having it for very young children aged 4-9. While some may disagree, I believe we should leave more grown up content until they are older and more equipped to understand and process it.

    Roger Magnus

  3. The drag story hour is a wonderful way to celebrate that we’re all different and to affirm diversity of gender expression in our community. There’s no adult content; it’s simply reading age-appropriate stories. My kids were gender-benders at this age. I would have loved to bring them to a community event designed for children so they could experience that affirmation of who they were.

    Andra Rose

  4. With regard to the library renovation Samuel Minot Jones is stirring in his grave. His vision for Amherst’s living room, built with the finest materials by the best Valley craftsmen, has been sullied. The proposed designs continue to become less and less conformant with the colonial revival aesthetic with no plans that I have seen or heard about to honor and preserve all of his original interiors as required by national preservation standards.

    Let’s forget a new addition AND INSTEAD [delete “to”] spend taxpayer funds on restoring and renovating the original 1928 and 1993 structures to bring them closer to 2023 sustainable conditions while avoiding filling landfills with the detritus and possible serious damage to the Strong House from wrecking ball and heavy dump truck vibrations.

  5. As backed up by countless ethical drag queens and hundreds of thousands of gay people who don’t sexualizes 5 years old for money. “Drag queen events are for adults not kids. “ As a father of two daughters myself I will be stand out peacefully against every event with this inappropriate content for children either by myself or an army behind me.

    William Park

  6. The video of Giganta Smalls that was referenced to the Board of Trustees can be found by going to Facebook- searching Giganta Smalls and than you can go over in the top where it says videos- now go down until you see a video that says CV – slight homophobic language. I believe it is 18:17 minutes. You can go in to the video roughly 6:30 minutes and start listening. It will bring you directly to where he speaks in a sexual manner about a child in his classroom. He states of being a paraprofessional and has a boy straight out of Brazil that doesn’t speak English who is a future American gay and states this what they call “fag”. Then he goes on to reference another child who he saw at recess on the playground doing the splits and it made him want to reach for dollar bills. He says he can’t wait to see her on the scene in 20 years. Disgusting comments to speak about young children this way.

    The Jones Library is in violation of Massachusetts Law: Section 172H. The law reads – Notwithstanding section 172 or any other general or special law to the contrary, any entity or organization primarily engaged in providing activities or programs to children 18 years of age or less, shall obtain all available criminal offender record information from the criminal history systems board prior to accepting any person as an employee, volunteer, vendor or contractor. Any entity or organization obtaining information under this section shall not disseminate such information for any purpose other than to further the protection of children. Do not let the librarian fool you with the above statement that we like to do American Girl doll but funding is not there – first and foremost you do NOT at any time put children at risk any disobey laws in order to do a program. Secondly- please go and look at the budget within the library. They have million+ in endowments. Amherst should do better for their children! Due diligence (not hiring friends) to come in unvetted.

    Carole Hinkley

  7. My niece, who is a progressive, said she was and still is a Tom Boy but she’s sooo glad she didn’t have to deal with this indoctrination. She went in to say, that no doubt this would have confused her at such a young age. This article refers to not being able to find the video so here it is at about 6:40 min. in. Does anyone think this is ok or appropriate? Do the parents of the young boy that he mentions in the video know he’s talking about their son like that in his skits?!!

    Janelle Soucia

  8. Ms. Hinkley raises a valid question, not just for drag queens, but for anyone leading or performing at a children’s program. Should they undergo a CORI check before being hired?

    I don’t know the legal answer, and I don’t find a policy on the Jones Library website, but MGL 172H seems pretty explicit.

  9. Humans have a long history of people in gender-bending costumes performing for children — theater, puppets, Bugs Bunny, etc. The appropriate question is not the performer; it’s the performance. Is the performance (whether in costume or not, whether gender-conforming or not) about sex or violence, or … is it reading children’s books? Drag Queen Story Hour is really about providing kids an exceptional story hour from highly skilled performance artists. As with all library events, nobody is forced to attend. If you don’t like the content of a story hour, or the performer, don’t show up. If you have kids, you are entitled to keep your kids from attending.

    People are, of course, entitled to make it difficult and/or awkward for other families to bring their children to events that they choose, but that seems to fall in the camp of … trying to make parenting decisions for other people’s kids.

  10. … Also, I was just recently reading about the obituary of Raquel Welch, who was on Sesame Street with Miss Piggy. In fact, a whole host of performers — whose performances are *generally* aimed at adults — have appeared as guests on Sesame Street.

    I was also remembering the over-the-top female caricatures of the “Hee Haw Honeys”, which my folks watched when I was a kid, and “Grand Ole Opry”, and Miss Piggy, and Dolly Parton. It’s a costume, a performance, and it makes it sparkle for kids … [I would *die* to see a drag performance of the Hee Haw Honeys “gossip song” …]

    Folks who know me personally and wish to talk about this issue further are welcome to reach out to chat about our perspectives.

Leave a Reply

The Amherst Indy welcomes your comment on this article. Comments must be signed with your real, full name & contact information; and must be factual and civil. See the Indy comment policy for more information.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.