Colchester Removes Children’s Biography of Drag Performer from Circulation Pending Review

The suitability of "Who is RuPaul?" for the children's section of a Colchester Public Library was called into question on Monday.


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COLCHESTER — A children’s book was removed from the shelves of Cragin Memorial Library after a parent complained about “sexually provocative drawings,” according to a Facebook post by First Selectman Andreas Bisbiskos on Monday. Bisbiskos further directed library staff to conduct an inventory of the holdings in the library’s children’s department.

Bisbiskos wrote that the book was “immediately removed from circulation” after the complaint was made. 

According to Kate Byroade, library director at Cragin, the book in question is “Who is RuPaul?” by Nico Medina. It is part of the “Who Is/Who Was?” series, a New York Times bestselling children’s series that gives short biographies of famous people such as Tom Brady, Michael Jordan, Walt Disney, Harriet Tubman, Thomas Jefferson, J.K. Rowling and others. 

The book tells the story of RuPaul Andre Charles, a famous drag queen who hosts the show RuPaul’s Drag Race, which has won 14 PrimeTime Emmy Awards. In addition to his show, RuPaul has appeared in various films and is the author of three books. 

Byroade said that the parent’s complaint had to do with a picture in the book “depicting a female dancer spelling out the word VIVA.” 

According to library procedures, a patron with concerns about a book can file a formal complaint through a “Statement of Concern About Library Resources” form. Librarians will then review the material and respond to the complaint. If the person making the complaint does not agree with the response, the complainant can forward it to the Board of Selectmen, who have the final say on whether the material will remain in the library. 

Byroade said that although the library has not yet received a formal written complaint, the book was removed by staff pending a review and response.

Of the 31 libraries in the Library Connection Inc. Consortium, of which Colchester is a member, sixteen have a copy of the book. Six copies also exist in the LION Consortium, which encompasses 38 Connecticut libraries. Prior to publishing this story, CT Examiner was able to speak to staff members at four libraries, none recall receiving complaints about the book. 

In his Facebook post, Bisbiskos said that he had directed Byroade to conduct an “inventory” of all the books in the children’s department, and encouraged parents with concerns about particular books to bring them forward.

“Since I have been directed to conduct this inventory and review I will do so,” Byroade wrote in an email to CT Examiner. 

Bisbiskos did not return a call from CT Examiner requesting comment by the time this article was published.

Emilia Otte

Emilia Otte covers health and education for the Connecticut Examiner. In 2022 Otte was awarded "Rookie of the Year," by the New England Newspaper & Press Association.