Protect The Innocence Of Children


When my kids were little, they liked to play dress-up. Naturally my son insisted on wearing whatever his big sister was wearing: tiara, butterfly wings, toenail polish. She was a witch one year for Halloween and he was a pirate, but because the witch had a green face, he had to have a green face. He was a green-faced pirate. They are both adults now and not even a little confused about butterflies or pirates.

If my kids were still little, I would take them to Drag Story Hour at Mesa Public Library this weekend, without hesitation. When they were small, we took them to library storytime and birthday parties where books were read and silly dances were had with a fairy, a clown, the Clan Tynker jesters, a wizard. We’d go to the Palace of the Governors for Christmas and Santa and his elves were there. Sometimes people would dress up in ways that didn’t match their non-costumed gender identity: this is considered especially fun for little kids. They were not confused by costumes; not their own, and not a grown-up’s. (Although maybe a little nervous of the clown at first: clowns can be scary.) 

Children understand dress-up better than anyone. They understand it intuitively. This is what makes Halloween so much fun. I am willing to bet that those who are uncomfortable with children attending this event have themselves worn costumes, possibly even dressed up with their kids to go Trick-or-Treating. There are many circumstances in which everyone, adults and children, is comfortable with dress-up. Everyone gets how it works. The parents get it, the kids get it; it’s costumes, it’s pretend, it’s fun. The only “danger to innocence” is in the hearts of small-minded people who project their own insecurities and fears onto others. |

Costumes allow us to express and explore other sides of ourselves in safe ways, and this has been true throughout human history. The only people who get nervous about it are people who are scared of such exploration, scared to allow any nonconformity to be displayed, even for a minute, even in play. The real “threat to innocence” is this fear: a terror so deep that even simple dress-up becomes, in some dark imaginations, something sinister. It’s hard to “just be a kid” in that environment. Luckily, our public library, and most of this community, does understand that dress-up is fun, and that this event is family-friendly and innocent.

There is no inherent threat to childhood innocence from Drag Story Hour. The book that author L’il Miss Hot Mess will read is cute, encourages silly dancing, and is age-appropriate—give it a read! If you’re still uncomfortable, the good news is you actually do not have to join the event, nor bring your kids. It’s not mandatory attendance! Those who will be there will have a fun time—especially the kids, who are blissfully unaware of the tizzy. 

The only threat to innocence comes from adults projecting their bigotries and insecurities onto this event. Children witnessing a threatening, angry reaction will likely be confused and maybe alarmed. If adults show up and are disruptive, that will definitely take away from the innocence and fun.

Let kids be kids. Let them enjoy an event that is meant for them. 

Some further reading:

Drag Queen Story Hour frequently asked questions: from Drag Queen Story Hour

Drag queens reading books to children are not the problem from Baptist News

Is listening to a drag queen read a story dangerous for a child? from Psychology Today

Drag queens are not the ones sexualizing drag story hour from the Washington Post

Protesting Drag Queen Story Hour: what would Jesus do from FavsNews (Faith and Values News) 

Political rhetoric, false claims obscure the history of drag performance from PBS New Hour

Drag Queen Story Hour Brings ‘Glamorous, Positive’ Voices to Libraries, Bookstores from NBC News
Libraries Respond: Drag queen story hour, from the American Library Association