Pennsylvania awarded thousands of dollars from President Biden’s American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act to LGBTQ organizations that sponsor activities for children like “Queer Story Hour” and a “Birthday Bash” for a deceased “genderqueer” artist.
The ARP bill, which Democrats passed in March 2021 without Republican support, was billed by the Democratic Party as an economic necessity to get the country through the COVID-19 pandemic. The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), which received $135 million from the plan, allocated $51.6 million in ARP funding to state “humanities councils” to “recover and reopen humanities organizations.” to support those affected by the pandemic.
One such recipient was the Pennsylvania Humanities Council, which received $1.4 million in grants from the NEH. The council awarded thousands to organizations across the state focused on “equity and geographic diversity.”
But as previous analysis by Fox News Digital has shown, the organizations and programs that received aid had little to do with the recovery from the pandemic.
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For example, the Pennsylvania Humanities Council awarded $16,000 in ARP funding to the Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center in Allentown, which bills itself as “an inclusive place in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley for all LGBTQ+ residents in the area.”
The center is scheduled to host a “Queer Story Hour” for children this Saturday, during which a “queer reader” will read “I Am Jazz,” a book about a young transgender girl that’s marketed to children ages 4 to 8 will.
In September, the center hosted a “drag story hour” for children as young as one, where a drag queen named Honey Mustard read the book “King & King,” about a romantic relationship between two princes.
The Pennsylvania Humanities Council also awarded $16,000 in ARP funding to the Mattress Factory Contemporary Art Museum in Pittsburgh, which offers youth programs for children ages 7 and older.
The museum said it used the ARP funds to create a two-month program celebrating the late Greer Lankton, a trans-genderqueer artist known for her lifelike nude puppets featuring drag queens and other gender-related themes. In April 2022, to mark Lankton’s 64th birthday, the museum hosted a “Birthday Party” for all ages with live music and birthday cake.
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The museum has frequently hosted events and exhibitions featuring drag queens for all ages. In April, it hosted a “Queer Afterlives in Artist Archives” showcasing “the history of queer art.”
“Some funding for this program was provided by PA Humanities and the National Endowment for the Humanities under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021,” the event description reads.
The same museum was rocked by a 2018 sexual harassment scandal that led to some artists having their works pulled from the institution. The museum secured comparisons with four female employees allegedly being harassed by a male employee and took on new management in 2019.
In its interim report, submitted to the NEH last year, obtained at the request of FOIA and shared with Fox News Digital, the Pennsylvania Humanities Council cited the Mattress Factory’s “Queer Lives” symposium and the “significant projects of the Bradbury-Sullivan Center Documenting LGBTQ+ Experience” when asked to describe the “most significant outcomes” of ARP funding.
“The Mattress Factory recently hosted a ‘Queer Afterlives in Artist Archives Symposium’ and celebration to launch the release of extensive public archives documenting the life and work of genderqueer artist Greer Lankton,” reads the council’s report to NEH. “The Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Center is building a community archive documenting the rich history of local and regional LGBTQ+ life and activism, including printed materials, signs, memorabilia, clothing and oral histories.”
The Pennsylvania Humanities Council, the Mattress Factory and the Bradbury-Sullivan Center did not respond to Fox News Digital’s requests for comment.
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The Pennsylvania Humanities Council also awarded a grant to the Scribe Video Center in Philadelphia for a project “documenting how African Americans and Latinx have worked to secure their representative share of political power for their communities,” according to the interim report. This grant was similarly worth $16,000 in ARP funding.
A $16,000 grant also went to Just Act, a Philadelphia theater specializing in training in “theatre of the oppressed,” an acting technique that advances left-wing ideologies through active audience performances.
Pennsylvania is just one of dozens of states that have provided ARP funding to humanities projects seemingly unrelated to the COVID-19 pandemic recovery. Humanities New York distributed more than $360,000 in ARP funding to dozens of organizations, including a $10,000 grant to the National Jazz Museum in Harlem to conduct a five-part musical series on the influence of Islam and Muslims in jazz to create. The council awarded another $10,000 ARP grant to the Pan Am Museum Foundation to “investigate how racial diversity has transformed the airline industry.”
Not every state provided ARP funding for humanities programs.
In contrast, the Florida Humanities Council received over $2 million in ARP funding from the NEH, which it gave out in the form of “general operating grants” to organizations affected by the pandemic.
“No partial ARP awards were given for humanities programs,” the council wrote in its interim report to the NEH. “Florida Humanities’ ARP grants are designed to direct funds to eligible organizations solely for short-term general operational needs to sustain the delivery of public humanities programs and resources in communities across the state.”
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Many economists have blamed the ARP for overheating the economy and contributing to the current inflationary crisis, which peaked at 9.1% in June, the highest rate since 1982, which has since cooled to 6.5%.
Fox News Digital has reported extensively on the millions of ARP funds that have funded social and climate justice programs nationwide that have virtually nothing to do with pandemic relief.
For example, the NEH awarded the Oral History Association $825,000 in ARP funding for a fellowship project titled “Diversifying Oral History Practice: A Fellowship Program for Under/Unemployed Oral Historians,” which provided 11 year-long fellowships of $60,000 each for oral historians Communities historically marginalized in this area,” such as “Indigenous peoples, people of color, people with disabilities, and working-class people.”
The NEH awarded an additional $499,023 to the University of Montana for several racial justice programs, including a public lecture series on “Racial Justice, Death, and Indigenous Knowledge.”
The Science History Institute in Philadelphia received $359,097 from the NEH to create a “multiplatform project to explore the historical roots and enduring legacies of racism in American science and medicine.” The same institution previously received a $1,230,100 loan under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) on April 14, 2020.
An additional $200,000 in ARP funding went to the Chicago Humanities Festival to create “six humanities programs on racial justice, gender equality and building an inclusive society.” The group had previously raised a total of $778,236 from two PPP loans between April 2020 and January 2021.
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In March 2021, Senate Democrats voted against an amendment to the ARP that would have diverted funds from the NEH to address the border crisis.
Senator John Cornyn, R-Texas, condemned Democrats at the time after everyone voted to block his amendment that would have shifted funding for the bill away from the NEH to “provide bedding for unaccompanied children and efforts to curb coronavirus transmission in to fund immigration detention facilities,” reads a press release.