Just like so many other town councils up and down the country
Think of Weston-super-Mare and what comes to mind? Kiss-me-quick hats and donkey rides on the sands perhaps? The pier that catastrophically caught fire in 2008?
Just another Victorian seaside resort that has seen better days.
Weston wants to change all that. In an effort to bring itself right up-to-date Weston is touting new restaurants, historical sites, museums, theatres and Pride Month.
Pride has evolved from a march with the simple message that same-sex attraction is nothing to be ashamed of into a month-long festival that is expected to draw visitors into the town. Because Pride is now a commercial brand, beloved of Social Justice Crusaders everywhere and embraced by businesses looking for diversity credits.
And fair enough. If people want to see drag shows in the evening or spend the night dancing to “camp anthems from pride icons” that’s up to them. Whatever floats your boat.
There are events for children too, such as the Queer Creative Craft Sessions where “LGBTQIA+ people and allies of all ages are welcome”. And of course, Drag Queen Story Hour at Weston Museum.
Drag is so fashionable now
Drag is everywhere. The BBC can’t put together a montage promoting their up-coming schedule without at least one drag queen.
Drag queens are used in advertising, they’re at Eurovision, they appear on quiz shows and game shows.
It’s all so normalised.
When the BBC promotes drag as harmless fun, when national papers write puff pieces about drag queens reading to children, when schools, libraries and museums host these events, it’s hard to blame people for thinking that it is normal. That these events are suitable for children.
And when our cultural institutions frame up objections as right wing, it becomes increasingly hard to be taken seriously if you are not on-board with the programme. Objections are not even heard if the speaker has been smeared as “far-right”.
But we have safeguarding concerns
It is against this backdrop of official approval that Women’s Rights Network women are challenging the suitability of drag queens as children’s entertainers generally and presenting specific concerns about Sab Samuel - aka drag queen Aida H Dee - who has been hired to read at Weston Museum.
We have written to the local papers, but still the public perception of drag is that it is good wholesome fun. Sequins and glitter. Family entertainment. Just like going to the panto.
We wrote to the Town Council and Weston Museum to explain that there is more to it, and to ask those with safeguarding responsibilities to look more closely at what they have nodded through.
We pointed out all those concerns about Sab Samuel that have been expressed repeatedly:
He is actively fund raising for Mermaids UK even though Mermaids UK are under investigation by the Charity Commission over safeguarding concerns and consequently all links to their website have been removed from government websites.
Mr Samuel says he “aims to teach children about LGBTQ+ issues” and that he’s there for “the queer kids”.
How are these lessons being conveyed?
Why do under-7s need to be taught about LGBTQ+ issues?
LGB people have nothing in common with TQ+ (what is the “+” anyway?) It’s an insult to imply that gay men are likely to wear women’s clothes and makeup, and sexism and misogyny does nothing to help lesbian acceptance.
He appears to have had one-on-one interactions with young people at his events where at least one young person has discussed their sexuality with him. It is hugely revealing that he doesn’t understand how inappropriate this is.
Sab Samuel was a friend of Darren Moore – a convicted child rapist – and fundraised for his funeral. Of course, this does not mean that Mr Samuel has done anything wrong, but it is concerning as part of the bigger picture.
Sab Samuel is an activist, not an educator. He believes that “trans women are women” and more worryingly that “love has no age”. This should be a huge concern to anyone who cares about child safeguarding.
Neither the Town Council nor Weston Museum were interested although we had a response from the Police Liaison Officer assigned to the DQSH event. The Museum forwarded him our email.
Eventually, the Town Clerk Malcolm Nicholson did respond and we had an email exchange, but it seems his mind was made up.
In summary, Mr Nicholson does not think drag is highly sexualised (perhaps he should test that theory by attending some of the drag shows during Pride month?) That drag queens are just like pantomime dames. That it’s all part of the drive for greater diversity and inclusion. That no harm could possibly be done to children because their parents will be with them. That the event has been enjoyed elsewhere. And surely the clincher:
You questioned the appropriateness of the title Aida H Dee and I have also considered this point. The performer is patron of ‘Autistic Inclusive Meets London’. He is also a professional and published children's author and a five-star Edinburgh Fringe act.
Jerry Sadowitz is also a published author, a professional, and a five-star Edinburgh Fringe act, but I wouldn’t want him reading to small children either.
Let’s see the risk assessments
But, I hear you say, risk assessments have been done and references secured. So, the Town Council have done their due diligence, haven’t they?
No. No they haven’t.
The Museum’s risk assessment identifies three risks specific to this event
The presence of children and/or vulnerable adults
Controversy surrounding the event could cause disruption
Threat of Protests
Extract from the Weston Museum Risk Assessment
This risk assessment is baffling. The presence of children and/or vulnerable adults is not a hazard – they are the people who are at risk. It’s the drag queen who is the hazard – specifically because drag queens sexualise children and introduce them to queer theory, blurring boundaries and telling very small children that men are women if they say they are.
The idea that a DBS check mitigates this is ludicrous. But not quite as ludicrous as the idea that Sab Samuel’s own recommendation is a mitigation to any risk he presents.
Would you like to see it?
Drag Queen Story Hour Risk Assessment
In case you can’t read that snapshot on your device, the first two areas of concern relate to physical harm - trip hazards, fire, terrorism, storm or “hate campaign”. The final area of concern is Content.
Hazards identified: Inappropriate content.
Persons at risk: Young people.
Current risk factor: Low
Actions to be taken to minimize risk: All content has been ensured to be appropriate and has been used in numerous venues. The performer is a trained professional.
New risk factor: Very Low
It’s a particularly nice touch that at least Mr Samuel has recognised that there is a risk of inappropriate content. That’s more than the Museum safeguarding lead identified.
On the other hand, at least the Museum safeguarding lead spotted that children would be present, whereas Mr Samuel claims he will be reading to “Young people”. We should all be starting to notice that children – even the under 7’s – are now routinely referred to as young people, and we should ask ourselves who might think that was a good idea. Did you notice the Queer Creative Craft Sessions also talks about “people of all ages”?
As a recommendation written by Samuel himself, this risk assessment provides no useful input into safeguarding. None. Presumably it’s Sab Samuel who has ensured that the content is appropriate and is telling us that he’s a trained professional. Trained in what, exactly?
But it can and does get worse. Take a look at DQSH UK Ltd’s FAQs:
Are we really expected to take this nonsense at face value? It is Sab Samuel who has ADHD, is autistic and is a neurodivergent activist. Aida H Dee is a character he has made up, not the patron of any charity.
And in case anyone still thinks there is no link between drag queens and the promotion of gender identity ideology to children, notice the use of pronouns. “They are a patron…” and “her name”. This conflation of the character “Aida H Dee” with the man Sabastian Samuel is deliberately confusing and helps to muddy the waters around who or what safeguarding should focus on.
This isn’t safeguarding
Councillors are, for the most part, trying to do the right thing I’m sure. But they need good quality training to understand how these events are putting children at risk, how to recognise different types of abuse, how grooming works and what it looks like. We don’t expect councillors to understand planning regulations without the proper training - this is no different and even more important.
It is clear that local councils - and certainly Weston Town Council - do not have the knowledge they need to safeguard our children. All their efforts are focused on preventing physical harm to those present. Which is, of course, needed.
But that’s the bare minimum.
Civic institutions and cultural centres confer approval on events like these; libraries, museums, art galleries have cultural and intellectual heft, and parents are entitled to believe that events that are held there have been appropriately assessed. To claim that parents are making an informed choice is to spectacularly miss the point. That the Museum is hosting the event is a key component in their decision making.
So we spoke out – and were jeered at for our pains
Having attracted the Town Clerk’s attention via email, our WRN members Emma and Louise spoke at the Town Council meeting on Thursday 18th May. It was a Mayor Making ceremony so plenty of members of the public were there, including children from local schools.
The Town Clerk suddenly remembered safeguarding was A Thing, and Louise and Emma were given prior warning that they could not repeat those “lurid claims” we made about Sab Samuel in front of the children (despite them being well evidenced).
There are plenty of concerns beyond the involvement of Sab Samuel with a child rapist, and fund raising for a lobby group pushing puberty blockers. But if these particular claims are so concerning, why on earth were they so readily discounted as irrelevant?
Louise and Emma clearly listed their concerns about safeguarding, sexism, age appropriate content and the numerous differences between pantomime and drag performances, and it was clear that some councillors agreed with them. But former Mayor and current Labour Councillor James Clayton (Executive member for safety in the community) clearly thinks safety doesn’t have anything to do with safeguarding. He jeered and booed, and astonishingly called another councillor a “bigot” and swore at him. Outrageous behaviour from a councillor. And in front of the children, let’s not forget.
Here’s Cllr Clayton at last year’s Pride in Weston. Draw your own conclusions about the degree to which he’s bought into drag, and whether he can see a distinction between drag as adult entertainment and the suitability of drag for children.
We can only hope that councillors and members of the public who witnessed this behaviour and are not entirely comfortable with the direction being taken demand that proper child safeguarding be put in place.
You be the judge
DQSH presents a man dressed as sexist, pornified parody of a woman to read to small children who are told that this man is a woman. Children who believe what the adults tell them, many of whom still believe in Father Christmas and The Tooth Fairy.
Should we support – with public money – drag queens reading their own books that are steeped in Queer Theory? Men who are openly Gender Identity Ideology activists are reading stories that promote those ideas to young children.
Sab Samuel’s latest book presents an additional set of safeguarding red flags.
The story tells of a young child who longs to go to a pride march, and eventually does exactly that by sneaking out without telling his parents!
OK, very few young children will do this. But some might. One would be too many.
And then there’s the symbolism on the book cover which only the most gullible could think accidental.
That smaller flag with the pi symbol is the polyamory flag – because pi being endless is similar to the way some people can love lots of people, apparently. One might reasonably wonder why small children should be presented with polyamory symbolism, but it doesn’t end there.
The coincidence of pi sounding like PIE – Paedophile Information Exchange – is believed by many to be no coincidence at all.
When men dressed as sexualised women are so keen to get access to children, to blur the boundaries between the sexes, to read LGBTQ+ activist material to them, to push Queer Theory and talk about “queer kids” we have a duty to be concerned.
And our civic institutions have a duty to at least show some curiosity about what is going on and to err on the side of caution.
People are very susceptible to believing what they want to be true. Children all the more so. Plant the seed of an idea and water it with encouragement and glitter, and that idea can take root.
It’s why we suddenly have a social contagion of transgender ideation in schools despite the fact that nobody has ever changed sex. Safeguarding must protect children against bad ideas, just as much as it must protect them from bad actors.