DRAG QUEENS & OUR CHILDREN
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Drag queens are men who dress as sexualised parodies of women. Their makeup and hair are usually extreme send-ups of the way that female sex workers present, and many of these men are themselves “adult entertainers”.
Drag Queen Story Hour is where “queering education” meets the children who should be benefiting from education – boundaries are deliberately blurred between males and female, adult and child, appropriate and distinctly inappropriate. The buzzwords “diversity and inclusion” overlay the boundaries, so that complaints or even questions about the appropriateness of DQSH are cast as intolerance and bigotry.
But look a bit more closely and drag queen story hour losing some of its glitter
Drag Queen Story Hour (DQSH) is currently very fashionable and hosted by libraries as a way of teaching children about diversity and inclusion and building LGBT acceptance.
We question how this is achieved by DQSH which does not challenge stereotypes, offering instead a narrow and unrepresentative introduction to the LGBT community. We are also concerned about the potential for DQSH to have negative impacts on women and girls.
Presenting young children with adult men dressed up and behaving as hypersexualized parodies of women will influence children’s view of women, to a greater or lesser degree.
As a performance genre, drag essentially parodies women in a way that endorses narrow stereotypes and mocks femininity. Research supports this, a 2014 study found drag to be ‘a product of a masculine world which defines the female beauty standard.’ (Laurie, 2014).
A man donning a costume of ‘woman’ doesn’t achieve the stated aim of defying ‘gender restrictions,’ rather it reinforces them. Young children will not necessarily understand that the performers are male. DQSH shows will likely reinforce sexist stereotypes about the dress and behaviour of women.
LGBT acceptance would be better achieved by choosing representatives who challenge sexist stereotypes of gay men and women. Positive role models from the LGBT community would be an inspiration for young people learning to understand about the many ways of being and loving.
We therefore call on councils and school authorities to:
Reject the practice of using drag queens to read to children
Cancel all proposed appearances by drag queens in libraries and schools
Commit to countering sexist messages in children’s provision