I would enthusiastically support ‘Story Time by the LGBT+ Community.’ I do not support ‘Drag Queen Story Time.’ My concern is one of intolerance vs intolerance.
Drag Queen Story Time
My family and I are enthusiastic supporters of the Lafayette Parish Libraries. I spend many hours each week at one or more of them, in the past writing my book, and now, promoting it. (And at times, writing this blog.) My wife and I take our kids to the libraries frequently, for activities, to read to them, and obviously, to check out books. We also put our money where our beliefs are: the late fees my family has paid have easily provided a comfortable retirement for more than one library employee.
The LPL drew national attention a few weeks back in announcing a new program, ‘Drag Queen Story Time,’ which is part of a larger national movement. I should start by saying that I would be very supportive of a program named “Story Time by the LGBT+ Community”, and would probably bring my kids, at least I would have when they were younger. My wife and I have a number of non-heterosexual friends, and when our children ask us about such things, we explain them as the choices and preferences that people are free to make about who they want to build a life with.
Form vs Function
We are also very clear that our children’s sexual orientations will be their choice, and is none of our business. We simply want our kids to be happy, honest, and contributing members to the larger world.
And tolerant; tolerance is very important. And that is where I object to ‘Drag Queen Story Time’.
To my mind, it’s a variation of the problem of form vs. function: what is important about a chair, a car, a home, a human body, or even a human life? How it looks? Or how it functions? Because in raising our children — and story time is an important part of raising children — we try to emphasize to them that function is primary. Form is secondary or even unimportant.
And that’s my problem with ‘Drag Queen Story Time’. I don’t object to the activity. I object to the name. I think it is a problem of intolerance vs intolerance.
First of all, notice who comes first in the title, ‘Drag Queen.’ ‘Story Time’ is second. It suggests that perhaps the real priority may not be the kids.
With that, I object strongly to the term ‘Drag Queen’, and to a lesser extent, even the term ‘cross-dressing’. They shouldn’t be a thing. People can dress however they wish.1)I do like that people be dressed, however. Yes, I am aware that this represents a certain hypocrisy on my part, and a lapse toward form rather than function. But hey, I’m a doctor. I’m all too aware that clothes cover up a great many things I’d rather not see. If a man wants to wear a dress and makeup, or a woman wants to wear flannel and khakis, I don’t understand why anyone else should discuss it. It’s no one’s business but the individual’s.
But second of all, and much more important to me, ‘Drag Queen’ is unnecessarily confrontational and provocative. It is an in-your-face way of injecting gender roles and sexual orientation into an activity where they don’t belong. It’s not that I object to non-traditional gender roles and non-heterosexual orientation at story time.
I object to any discussion of gender roles and sexuality at story time, one way or the other. Story time is for the kids, not the adults.
It seems to me that the name may be a calculated attempt to create controversy. It would appear to make story time into an activity, not of educating and enriching children, but of publicly promoting an agenda, and offending anyone who is intolerant.
Ironically, it appears to challenge the intolerant with yet more intolerance.
Let me explain. We have to decide if the intolerant are inherently and incorrigibly evil, or if they’re simply misguided. If the former, then it would seem there is no remedy other than police action, or open warfare. But I think most of us would say that the intolerant are simply misguided. That being so, we have to ask how choosing words that we know will offend them could ever help us to change their minds. So I can’t see how the name ‘Drag Queen Story Time’ advances tolerance.
In addition, it is preaching to the choir. The kids who come to such events probably don’t need to be there to learn tolerance. It is safe to assume that by bringing them, their parents are already sensitive to such things. Those who are on the fence, however, those who are not yet sure what they think, may be discouraged from coming. And so we lose a chance to educate.
We cannot create a rational world by provoking irrational emotions.
We cannot teach compassion through insensitivity.
And we cannot grow civility by offending those who disagree with us.
Evolution vs Revolution
I just don’t understand how progress can be achieved by starting from extreme positions. If we want to educate a child, we start where the child is, and take them forward one step at a time. That’s what the word ‘education’ means: to *lead* forward. Not to force forward, not to harass forward, not to bully forward, but to lead. It’s true for children.
And it’s true for adults.
One step at a time: evolution, not revolution.
I wrote my recent post on why the left and the right are not the same thing as liberal and conservative, partly in preparation for this post. The right does not believe in equality, tolerance, or inclusiveness.
So if we respond to the right with language and action which are inegalitarian, intolerant, and exclusive, we will never defeat them.
Instead, we will become them.
Photograph courtesy of Steven Depolo.
Footnotes [ + ]
|1.||↑||I do like that people be dressed, however. Yes, I am aware that this represents a certain hypocrisy on my part, and a lapse toward form rather than function. But hey, I’m a doctor. I’m all too aware that clothes cover up a great many things I’d rather not see.|