Adults don’t always have the answers, but we can ask questions and learn together. We created a resource page to help adults and kids explore drag, gender, and identity together.
There are also a number of organizations that provide resources for talking to kids about gender and other topics.
What is drag?
Drag is an artistic way of expressing yourself and showing the world who you are or who you want to be. Drag performers often express different aspects of their gender or personality through dressing up, performing, marching in parades, and volunteering in their communities. There are drag queens, drag kings, drag princes, and drag princesses—anyone can be any of the above, regardless of how they identify in everyday life! All that matters is that, when you dress up, you feel comfortable and creative.
Are drag performers dangerous?
No. This is a false narrative created by disingenuous politicians who are trying to score points by attacking programs like ours, which use drag as a traditional art form to promote literacy, teach about LGBTQ lives, and activate children's imaginations.
Let's be clear: Drag Story Hour provides age-appropriate programming, and we routinely receive praise from parents and educators who are delighted that we offer children safe spaces to express themselves and support one another.
Any attempt to criminalize our work is rooted in tired homophobic and transphobic hate and misinformation, and we refuse to give in to politicians who are too bigoted and boring to comprehend our vision for a world in which every child can be safe fully expressing who they are.
Does this promote an agenda?
Our agenda is simple: we believe that people of all ages should be free to express themselves however they want, free from the constraints of prescribed gender roles. In other words, there’s no such thing as “girl clothes” and “boy clothes,” or “girl toys” and “boy toys.” DSH teaches children that there are many ways to express themselves and their gender, and they are all OK. Of course, drag is an art form that is rooted in diverse LGBTQ communities, and we support equality, justice, and respect for all people—for us, that’s just a given. Given that LGBTQ people are present in every community, we believe that children deserve to experience these aspects of our shared history and culture, in age appropriate ways. Any insinuation that we have an agenda to indoctrinate children misunderstands LGBTQ experiences and is rooted in homophobia and transphobia.
Why is this necessary?
DSH helps children develop empathy, learn about gender diversity and difference, and tap into their own creativity. DSH can also be life-changing and ultimately life-saving for LGBTQ kids and teens, kids with LGBTQ parents or family members, and anyone who feels different because of their identity or interests or who may not otherwise see themselves reflected in the broader culture.
Should kids be exposed to gender fluidity?
Most children naturally explore gender identity and norms through imaginative play. However, too often gender norms are socially enforced at all ages, from the colors or clothes we’re supposed to wear to the toys kids are allowed to play with to the kinds of jobs we’re trained for. DSH teaches children to follow their passions and embrace gender diversity in themselves and others. This helps to curb bullying of LGBTQ kids and kids who may be perceived as different in all kinds of ways.
This article, written collaboratively by an education scholar and a drag queen involved in organizing DSH, contextualizes the programme within the landscape of gender in education as well as within the world of drag, and argues that Drag Story Hour provides a generative extension of queer pedagogy into the world of early childhood education. Drawing on the work of José Esteban Muñoz, the authors discuss five interrelated elements of DSH that offer early childhood educators a way into a sense of queer imagination: play as praxis, aesthetic transformation, strategic defiance, destigmatization of shame, and embodied kinship. Ultimately, the authors propose that “drag pedagogy” provides a performative approach to queer pedagogy that is not simply about LGBT lives, but living queerly.
As a parent/
caregiver, how can I be good ally?
Mobilize supportive parents and families. Koch-funded organizations have scaled and organized people from across the U.S. to show up at school board meetings to express grievances with everything from library books to curriculum, citing concerns that parents should have control over what their children learn about at school. Yet, most parents report that they trust their children’s teachers and are knowledgeable about what their children learn. Organizing with parents who support LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum can be a key way to push back against conservative narratives that frame decisions about what is taught in schools as some unseen indoctrination process. If you are a parent or family member of a K-12 student who supports LGBTQ-inclusive education, get involved with your school’s parent association and/or write op-eds for your local and state newspapers.
How can I support freedom?
Support public libraries and community centers. Schools and colleges are two common organizational types commonly associated with public education. Yet, spaces like libraries and community centers also play a role in educating and supporting students’ free and open access to information and community-building. Publicly thank the staff members of these organizations for the queer and trans materials and programs they already provide. These services are vital to public education and are also education spaces in and of themselves, especially for LGBTQ youth. Use these spaces and encourage their use by others. Donate your time and resources to them. Vote in local elections when their funding is jeopardized. Lobby local politics to ensure their ongoing maintenance and staffing.
How can I resist book bans?
This toolkit designed by the American Booksellers Association is designed to be modular and does not have to be read in full! Take what works for you and leave what doesn’t. Jump right to the How-Tos if you just want practical guidance. Skip ahead to hear from the booksellers in our case studies.
The “About Book Bans” section contains the information you need to engage in informed discussion about the unprecedented moment of book-banning and censorship in which we find ourselves.
The “How-Tos” section has specific, actionable resources you can use to support the right to read in your bookstore andcommunity, as well as resources to protect booksellers in the face of harassment and intimidation.
The “What Can I Do?” section will provide a checklist of things to do after you finish browsing the Toolkit to make a difference.
How are Drag Story Hours kept safe for my family to attend?
Drag Story Hour created the Shields Up! Program. This is our strategic response to an increasingly hostile climate outside of our events. We work with a number of professionals in anti-violence, de-esclation techniques, venue secruity, and physical and digital safety.
We are continually developing strategies in the following areas with our chapters:
Recruitment of volunteer safety teams
Training for Royal Guard leadership
Resource library to support continued growth and evolution of Best Practices