Yesterday, the Toronto Star reported that parents and staff at the Toronto District School Board are pushing to ban drag-queen storytime opt-outs.

Yes, you heard that right. Some parents and staff are arguing—not just that it should be permissible to have drag queen shows in our schools, but that parents should be unable to opt-out their own children if they are uncomfortable with these performances or storytime sessions.

I’ve done a few videos on drag queen storytime, and my position is pretty straightforward. I’ve argued that drag in general perpetuates regressive stereotypes of femininity and I’m not convinced drag, even for adults, does great service to anyone. But, drag storytime in particular takes those same concerns, and then directs them towards young children as the audience.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: why do we so desperately need to show children drag. What is your argument here. It’s just so unnecessary, and even if it isn’t sexual (which sometimes it is), wouldn’t it be safer to just… not do it. Where’s the harm in that?

The argument, of course, has been that drag exposes children to gender diversity. And that sounds great, until you realize this is a hollow argument because electing to participating in drag is not a gender identity. This is a hobby that some people enjoy, and others such as myself find pretty offensive.

If you want to expose children to diverse gender expression, I think this is a great thing! And we can do this by breaking down gender stereotypes and reminding our little girls that it’s okay to like sports, and construction toys and dressing in pants and a t-shirt if that suits their preferences. By showing her strong female role models who are not regressively stereotypical.

We can remind our little boys that it’s okay if they have feminine preferences and interests, and that engaging in those doesn’t make them any less of a man. We can show them men who are nurturing, and who are in touch with their emotions, and we can enforce that there is dignity in being a man with more effeminate tendencies.

And if we must show even more diverse gender identities, we could introduce them to someone like me—a regular run-of-the-mill transgender individual who isn’t even all that stereotypically feminine. Someone who presents both in attire and behaviour as a relatively normal adult human.

But instead, and for reasons that I still fail to fully grasp, some individuals have taken an obsession with exposing children to drag queens.

Do drag queens really teach young boys that it’s okay to behave or present more feminine if that is what comes naturally to them? No, they really don’t, because drag by its very nature is inherently performative. If anything, utilizing drag queen storytime as your mechanism to demonstrate gender diversity teaches young boys that it’s acceptable for them to present feminine only if done in an over-the-top performative fashion.

Julia Malott

Julia Malott is a Canadian based transgender individual who advocates for bridging the gap between diverse viewpoints on gender identity and ideology. Julia is the host of Alotta Thoughts Podcast which features bi-weekly long form discussions exploring the complexity of sex and gender.

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Julia Malott

Julia Malott is a Canadian based transgender individual who advocates for bridging the gap between diverse viewpoints on gender identity and ideology. Julia is the host of Alotta Thoughts Podcast which features bi-weekly long form discussions exploring the complexity of sex and gender.