Democrats blocked from using meeting rooms after Drag Story Hour held: ‘Disgusting abuse of power’

Ben Toma, pictured in the Arizona House

Arizona’s speaker of the house has banned all Democrats from using meeting rooms in the state capitol building after a Drag Story Hour event with Planned Parenthood was staged there.

Republican Ben Toma accused Democrat representative Lorena Austin of “deliberately” misleading the house by hosting an LGBTQ+ family event in the State Capitol earlier this week.

A Drag Story Hour event hosted by Austin and the Arizona chapter of Planned Parenthood took place in the house basement on Tuesday (30 April). The event was scheduled a day before an LGBTQ+ Youth Day at the Capitol.

In a post on X/Twitter following his discovery of the event, Toma said he would not allow the house to be used for what he called radical activism and to promote “dangerously perverse ideology”.

He went on to say: “As a result, I’ve ordered that Democrats have lost the privilege of accessing house meeting rooms until trust can be restored.”

The Arizona State Capitol.
A Drag Story Hour event was held in the basement of the Arizona State Capitol. (Getty)

Austin slammed the decision, saying the building was the people’s house and that included members of the LGBTQ+ community.

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“It is nothing short of ridiculous that I have been described as dishonest, deceitful and perverse and have been subjected to calls for punishment and expulsion,” she said. “What is true is that I hosted a drag performer who read stories about LGBTQ+ history and inclusion.”

There were no minors at the event and no content that would offend a minor, she added.

“We were completely transparent when we reserved the room. The content was not, or should not be, controversial.”

According to Austin, about 20 people – all adults – attended the gathering, which was held outside house business hours.

“It was educational and completely within the mission of our LGBTQ+ caucus. I will never apologise for teaching people to be inclusive, to accept others as they are, and to stand up to hate and bigotry,” she wrote.

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) also criticised Toma’s actions, branding it a “disgusting abuse of power”.

An HRC statement on X added: “LGBTQ+ people exist. Planned Parenthood exists. You cannot – and will not – force us out of public life.”