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  • Writer's pictureArizona House Democrats

'Not the people's House after all' -- House Democrats respond to outrageous retaliation for hosting drag story hour


April 30, 2024


PHOENIX – House Democratic Whip Nancy Gutierrez released the following statement after House Speaker Ben Toma unilaterally banned House Democrats from using conference rooms Monday after Representative Lorena Austin and Planned Parenthood hosted a scheduled drag story hour. Austin is a member of the Arizona LGBTQ Legislative Caucus, and Arizona's first non-binary and gender nonconforming legislator.


"I guess this isn’t the people’s House after all. No one was misled about scheduling this event. It was described as a drag story hour when Representative Austin’s assistant called to reserve the room. I was there. We ate bagels and listened to a person wearing makeup and a sparkly outfit read a book and some poems about inclusion, acceptance, and LGBTQ history. It wasn’t ’perverse,’ it was lovely, funny, and inspiring. We have had anti-abortion activists welcomed into the House to sing and jeer and mock our members, while our entire caucus has been banned from using House conference rooms because of how a person was dressed and what they had to say. Our leadership and Representative Austin have spoken with Speaker Toma to get the facts on the table and reduce the tension. We are working toward a resolution but are not all the way there yet. We will always stand with our members and constituents in the face of discrimination, and we denounce any kind of knee-jerk retaliation.”



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