drag queens
Last week, the Washington Post ran a column in defense of Drag Queen Story Hour. The issue of whether drag performances are harmful or wholesome has been hotly debated, with politicians including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis proposing laws to ban them for child audiences.

Let's be clear, the injection of drag queens into children's consciousnesses goes beyond innocently sitting in a classroom reading storybooks. Kids are being brought to performances that are marketed as kid-friendly, despite being, in many cases, sexually explicit. For example , at an event in Dallas, Texas, earlier this month, drag queens accepted cash tips from young children while writhing suggestively in front of a particularly memorable neon sign that read, "It's not gonna lick itself." An additional extension of this, as I've written before, is children themselves partaking in drag and performing for adult audiences.

As someone who grew up in the gay community with many drag queens as friends, I don't think it's appropriate for kids to be exposed to any of this any more than a child should be taken to a strip club or restaurant chain that is known for revealing staff uniforms. Those defending drag shows as harmless entertainment have framed critics as driven by anti-gay sentiments. But calling out the grooming aspect of this behavior has nothing to do with drag queens being gay. If anything, gay people have long fought negative and false stereotypes about being sexual predators, and the last thing activists should want to do is resurface those fears.

If these were instead women dancing provocatively, giving lap dances, and removing their clothing in front of child onlookers, I'm certain staff and fellow audience members would be disgusted and appalled. The dancers would surely be asked to leave, and there is a high probability that Child Protective Services would be called on parents, as well.

Encouraging children to touch strangers in areas of the body that are usually covered by undergarments and desensitizing kids to overt depictions of adult sexuality is dangerous territory. The reasons for concern are laid bare in recent news of a Pennsylvania drag queen arrested on child pornography charges.

A child is not a prop to be used for political statements or for showing off that one is open-minded and "hip." The fact that some parents see no issue and support this trend is where the focus of discussion should be.
Dr. Debra Soh is a sex neuroscientist, the host of The Dr. Debra Soh Podcast, and the author of The End of Gender: Debunking the Myths About Sex and Identity in Our Society.