Trans­gen­der lessons for 2-year-olds

Drag queens drafted into nurs­ery schools to teach chil­dren about sex­ual diver­sity . . . be­fore they de­velop ‘dis­crim­i­na­tory isms’ THE CREEP­ING IN­FLU­ENCE OF LGBT LOBBY

The Mail on Sunday - - News - By Char­lotte Wace and Stephen Adams

DRAG queens are be­ing brought i nto t ax­payer- f unded nurs­ery schools so that chil­dren as young as t wo can l earn about t rans­gen­der is­sues.

The cross-dressers are read­ing nurs­ery rhymes and singing spe­cially adapted songs ‘ to teach chil­dren about LGBT tol­er­ance’.

Nurs­ery bosses say the ses­sions are needed so that chil­dren can ‘see peo­ple who defy rigid gen­der re­stric­tions’ and grow up to com­bat hate crime. They want to tar­get two- and three-year-olds to in­flu­ence them early, as they say at this age chil­dren have not yet de­vel­oped any dis­crim­i­na­tory ‘isms’.

The ‘per­for­mances’ are the brain­child of Thomas Can­ham, a Bris­tol Univer­sity law grad­u­ate and part­time cross-dresser who dis­misses

‘Skirt on the drag queen goes swish, swish, swish’ We aim to cap­ture the imag­i­na­tion and fun of the gen­der flu­id­ity of child­hood, while giv­ing chil­dren a glam­orous, pos­i­tive and un­abashedly queer role model The aim of Drag Queen Story Time (DQST), ac­cord­ing to its web­site

tra­di­tional no­tions of mas­culin­ity as ‘mean­ing­less’.

But crit­ics last night said the ses­sions could ‘blind im­pres­sion­able chil­dren of two and three to one of the most ba­sic facts of hu­man ex­is­tence’. Lead­ing child psy­chother­a­pist Dilys Daws, co-au­thor of the book Find­ing Your Way With Your Baby, feared they could sow the seeds of con­fu­sion in young chil­dren about their own sex­ual iden­tity, with long-term con­se­quences.

She said: ‘There’s this idea that’s sweep­ing the coun­try that be­ing trans­gen­der is an “or­di­nary sit­u­a­tion”. It’s get­ting so much pub­lic­ity that it’s get­ting chil­dren think­ing that they might be trans­gen­der, when it oth­er­wise wouldn’t have oc­curred to them. But it’s per­fectly nor­mal for most young chil­dren to think about be­ing the op­po­site sex. It’s prob­a­bly be­cause they are iden­ti­fy­ing with a par­ent or sib­ling.’

Nor­man Wells, di­rec­tor of the Fam­ily Ed­u­ca­tion Trust, said: ‘One of the most dis­turb­ing things about the trans­gen­der agenda is the way that it tries to dis­tort our per­cep­tion of re­al­ity and deny some­thing as fun­da­men­tal as the dis­tinc­tion be­tween male and fe­male.’ Mr Can­ham’s or­gan­i­sa­tion Drag Queen Story Time (DQST) is hold­ing ses­sions at seven nurs­eries run by the Lon­don Early Years Foun­da­tion over the win­ter. If deemed suc­cess­ful, they will be rolled out across all the nurs­ery’s 37 sites.

The chain re­ceives tax­payer cash as many of its chil­dren qual­ify for Gov­ern­ment- funded child­care. Be­sides read­ing to the chil­dren, ses­sions so far have in­cluded a ‘Hal­loween drag disco’, face paint­ing and ‘high tea’. Drag queens at DQST in­clude Donna La Mode, who wears a gin­ger wig and is de­scribed as ‘ the Fairy Queen of the drag world’, and ‘hy­per­ac­tive’ Aida.

Mr Can­ham, 26, started his or­gan­i­sa­tion ear­lier this year af­ter read­ing about a sim­i­lar out­fit in the US. He said: ‘Once you think about the

idea – which is es­sen­tially drag queens read­ing sto­ries to chil­dren – it all makes per­fect sense. Ul­ti­mately, t hey are per­form­ers, they’re larger than life! It’s ex­actly what chil­dren want.’

He said he wanted to cre­ate a ‘safe space’ where adults or chil­dren would not be crit­i­cised for ‘wear­ing a dress’. His drag queens had ‘com­plete con­trol’ over their per­for­mances, he added. ‘They can in­clude, for ex­am­ple, drag queen ref­er­ences within songs. So if you’re do­ing some­thing like Wheels On The Bus, you can sing, “The skirt on the drag queen goes swish, swish, swish.”

‘The par­ents love it, and the chil­dren love it too – es­pe­cially when you’ve got a six-year-old boy there in a princess dress which he isn’t al­lowed to wear at home be­cause his dad doesn’t like it.’

His drag queens also had ‘a li­brary with books which fo­cus on LGBT rights, fem­i­nist fairy tales and trans-rights is­sues,’ said Mr Can­ham, t he son of a Bri­tish Army sol­dier.

‘ On trans- themes, we’ve got a book called In­tro­duc­ing Teddy where the teddy re­alises she’s a girl teddy, not a boy teddy, and is wor­ried her owner won’t like her any more. It’s a cute book,’ he said.

He said most venues ‘give us free reign’ but noted t hat Lon­don Early Years Foun­da­tion ‘ have re­quested we fo­cus on books they al­ready have at their nurs­eries’. June O’Sul­li­van, chief ex­ec­u­tive of LEYF, said: ‘By pro­vid­ing spa­ces in which chil­dren are able to see peo­ple who defy rigid gen­der re­stric­tions, it al­lows them to imag­ine the world in which peo­ple can present [them­selves] as they wish.’ She told BBC Lon­don ra­dio it was good to ex­pose very young chil­dren t o men who dress as women, ‘be­cause chil­dren are very open un­til about three’. ‘At three they be­gin to ab­sorb all the “isms” that adults have de­vel­oped very ef­fec­tively,’ she ex­plained.

Both Mr Can­ham and Ms O’Sul- li­van said the sto­ry­telling ses­sions were also a way of get­ting par­ents to re­alise trans­ves­tites and trans­sex­u­als were ‘peo­ple just like you’.

Greg Ste­wart Lane, man­ager of the chain’s Soho nurs­ery in Cen­tral Lon­don, which hosted the first event on Hal­loween, said they were mo­ti­vated by a re­cent in­crease in the num­ber of hate crimes in Eng­land and Wales.

Re­ported hate crimes rose 29 per cent in the last year, Home Of­fice fig­ures show, although only one in six was con­sid­ered se­ri­ous enough for a sus­pect to be charged.

‘FAIRY QUEEN’: Donna La Mode, one of the DQST draq queens. Far left: In a Bris­tol class

Last De­cem­ber, we re­ported how chil­dren were told to stop us­ing ‘boys’ and ‘girls’ in guid­ance from a Gov­ern­ment-funded group.

And just last week we re­vealed how the NHS is plan­ning on train­ing up hun­dreds of GPs as trans­gen­der ‘cham­pi­ons’.

IIn AAu­gust,t theth BBC gott a classl to ditch ev­ery­thing that de­fined boys as boys and girls as girls – in­clud­ing sep­a­rate loos.

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