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Republican lawmaker is about to regret messing with drag queens | Arwa Mahdawi

republican-lawmaker-is-about-to-regret-messing-with-drag-queens-|-arwa-mahdawi

Who’s afraid of the big bad drag queen? Missouri, apparently. A Republican lawmaker in the conservative state has introduced a bill that could jail librarians who host a Drag Queen Story Hour (DQSH) or let kids check out “inappropriate” books.

Ben Baker’s Parental Oversight of Public Libraries Act, filed last month, would establish a panel of parents that would determine whether or not a book is “appropriate for children”. Books deemed to contain “age-inappropriate sexual material” would be moved to a restricted part of the library. Any librarian who allowed kids access to these books could get up to a year in jail; the library would also lose funding.

What might be considered “age-inappropriate sexual material” isn’t really spelled out in the legislation and it’s not quite clear what it would encompass. Sleeping Beauty features a non-consensual kiss; Beauty and the Beast is a paean to bestiality; the Frog Prince contains a slimy interspecies embrace. Would those fairytales be stuck in the restricted session?

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Unlikely. It seems what Baker is really concerned about is books with LGBTQ+ content. “What inspired this bill is … events like Drag Queen Story Hour, and materials that have a clear agenda of grooming our children for the LGBTQ community with adult themes and content that fit the description of a objectionable sexual nature,” Baker said on Monday.

If you’re unaware of Drag Queen Story Hour it’s basically exactly what it sounds like; drag queens reading books to kids. It was launched in 2015 with the aim of showing kids “people who defy rigid gender restrictions” and letting them “imagine a world where people can present as they wish, where dress-up is real”.

Baker is not exactly the first critic of DQSH; numerous conservatives have railed against the program, accusing it of “indoctrinating” children. In actual fact, of course, the opposite is true. DQSH is an anti-indoctrination program; a much-needed corrective to the gender norms that are pushed on kids from the moment they’re born. If you want to see what indoctrination looks like, then just walk around the kids section of a store and take a look at what’s in the boys section and the girls section; according to a study last year, the marketing of toys is more gendered now than it was 50 years ago.

Critics of DQSH accuse it of being “sexual” which is a reflection of how anything outside rigid heterosexual norms is automatically considered hypersexual. Weirdly, however, it’s not considered sexual for babies to wear onesies with things like “chick magnet” or “I’m a boob guy” on them. It’s not considered sexual for parents to make jokes about their little kids having a girlfriend or boyfriend. But someone in fabulous makeup demonstrating the performative nature of gender and telling kids that it’s OK for them to be whoever they want to be? Somehow that is considered sexual.

Drag queens aren’t exactly the most timid of creatures and I’ve got a feeling Baker might regret picking a fight with them. A call has gone out for “Queens, Kings & everything in between!” to protest at the Missouri state capitol on 7 March. I’ve got a feeling it’s going to be fabulous.

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I’m not sure how he feels about drag queens, but the billionaire presidential candidate doesn’t seem to think much of trans people. Bloomberg is currently facing a backlash over a 2016 video in which he described a (hypothetical) transgender woman as “some man wearing a dress”.

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