Houston, Texas, US – Albert Garza, a registered child sex offender, was one of the “Drag Queen Storytime” readers to children at the Houston Public Library. Garza, who performed as drag queen Tatiana Mala Nina, was convicted of aggravated sexual assault of an 8-year-old child in 2009. He received five years of probation and community supervision.
The monthly library program launched in September 2017. According to its organizers, no background checks on drag queen volunteers were performed, in contravention of library policy. In October 2018, Mass Resistance, a Houstonian group opposed to the drag queen reading program, launched a lawsuit against the mayor and the Houston Public Library Executive Director. “From that point forward”, the organizers said, “if any performers wanted to be involved in our story time, or if previous performers wanted to read in the future, they needed to apply as volunteers and undergo background checks”.
Garza read to children three times at the library: once in 2017 and twice in 2018. The organizers have indicated that these volunteer activities occurred before the library began enforcing background checks for every performer.
On March 15, 2019, KHOU, the CBS affiliate in Houston, reported that Mass Resistance had uncovered that a registered child sex offender had been reading to children at the library. The group claimed it had been asking the City of Houston for months to disclose information about the drag queens. When the group did not receive any response to their requests, they decided to look into it themselves.
A media spokesperson for the library confirmed that Tatiana Mala Nina is Albert Garza, convicted child sex offender. A statement released by the library noted that “in our review of our process and of this participant, we discovered that we failed to complete a background check as required by our own guidelines.”
On March 19, 2019, the organizers announced they were stepping away, and the program would not continue “for the foreseeable future.”
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