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Libraries shouldn't subsidize drag queen story time

What to do with drag queens hosted by public libraries?

Publicity over story times for children featuring transvestites provoked the citizenry in one large Louisiana city, while it largely elicited a yawn in the state’s largest city. In Lafayette, many in the public expressed concern over the concept, and opposition by Mayor-President Joel Robideaux led to the resignation of his appointee to the board that runs parish libraries. By contrast, similar events in New Orleans haven’t generated any real controversy.

A board of appointees from local government entities govern Lafayette’s libraries. It receives about $1.4 million in general fund money from the city and another $14 million from the parish, mostly from a dedicated property tax. In New Orleans, a dedicated property tax is forecast to pump over $18 million into its libraries, governed by a board of mayoral appointees.

This creates starkly divergent political environments. In Lafayette, many elected officials bear some accountability for board actions, and also they can influence it marginally through appropriations. In New Orleans, with an entirely independent source of funding, as long as Mayor LaToya Cantrell doesn’t mind what goes on (and even she has a limited scope of action, as she appoints one board member a year for nine-year terms), it can do what it wants free from any accountability.

So, one might expect cancelling the Lafayette story time, scheduled in mid-October, should the public lobby elected officials sufficiently for that. And, as long as the New Orleans board doesn’t object and it hasn’t so far, a continuation of the same in that city.

Regardless, whether public dollars should facilitate such events is the real question. Both sides of the argument to some degree declare it a matter of community standards. Opponents say it makes the idea of transvestitism, if not transgender behavior or identification, acceptable to youth. Supporters claim it’s over-the-top performance art that promotes self-acceptance.

Thus, the discussion turns on whether the community ought to subsidize this form of expression as an option for youth to emulate. Behavioral science argues against that proposition.

Research consistently has demonstrated a link between a person of a biological gender, including children, who wish to dress in raiment consistent with the opposite sex (if not conceive of themselves as that opposite sex) and mental illness. Simply, people who like to cross dress suffer a much higher incidence of such illness than in the general public. This suggests that cross dressing often serves as a symptom of some kind of underlying problem.

The same appears true in children. The most recent study on this matter found much higher rates of select mental illnesses among children who exhibited transgender behavior as young as three. And while the authors erred on the side of political correctness by stating possibly societal pressure against one sex identifying as another could contribute to this pattern, that seems highly unlikely in children that young with such conditions as autism spectrum disorder.

Worse, approaches that put ideology ahead of science can pressure children into indulging in a desire to display oneself in ways associated with the biological gender they are not, which can proceed further into gender ennui if not outright causing reassignment psychologically and/or physically. Not only does this ignore a potential mental health issue, it validates it and could cause even more mental health issues in the future, much less force reversal of the entire process.

Of course, some people who cross dress have no psychological issues and no mental illness. But children, with their less-developed personalities and decision-making ability, ought not have society endorse to them a behavior that may disguise and lead to ignoring a deeper issue. Additionally, for many such desires prove transitory by the time they reach adulthood.

Adults can make up their own minds over how they want to appear and act, but with children more vulnerable to fad and fashion they don’t need society to stand down from guarding against what could deflect from a real issue and cause future them psychological pain. By acting as if transvestitism were a mainstream model to follow, libraries increase the chance of sowing deleterious confusion among children. Spending tax dollars this way neither is appropriate nor helpful.

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