Outrage Was Reasonable in the Case of Drag Show at Local High School

By Sen. Ryan P. Aument (R-36)

Reasonable people agree that school is not the appropriate place for a sexually charged performance by professional adult dancers. Optional or not, drag shows were never meant for children.

In a sign of the times, I honestly am shocked that this even needs to be said. Yet, the LNP Editorial Board bent over backwards in a recent editorial to defend the sexual performance put on at a local school without parental knowledge.

Contrary to LNP’s claims, opponents of what happened in Hempfield are not pushing to eliminate safe spaces for LGBTQ students. They aren’t arguing that already marginalized groups should “exist in the shadows.” And they aren’t saying that drag shows intended for an audience of consenting adults should be banned.

They’re saying that drag shows intended for an audience of school children is inappropriate and wrong. That is not unreasonable, nor is it partisan.

Reasonable people recognize that, historically and currently, not all drag performances are inherently sexual. However, the subject of this op-ed and the recent editorial by LNP’s Editorial Board (where they claimed that drag events in schools are “valuable”) is not all drag shows throughout history, but rather one specific drag show at a local high school that WAS sexual.

Reasonable people would also agree that adults dancing erotically in g-strings IS inherently sexual. So, while drag has its roots in Shakespeare and the world of vaudeville, as the Editorial Board pointed out, the show that was performed at Hempfield was wildly different than those performed by Shakespearean actors whose costumes covered every inch of their skin and whose performances were markedly less sensual than what occurred here.

Do supporters of Hempfield’s drag show really believe that the only “safe space” a school can provide to LGBTQ students is at drag show where adults perform sexual dances in “tight-fitting costumes?” Does the LNP Editorial Board really believe that the drag show performed at Hempfield High School wasn’t sexual in nature? If this performance was truly benign and age-appropriate, why not publish footage or photographs from the event in the newspaper and on LancasterOnline?

Unsurprisingly, while arguing in favor of drag shows for children in schools, LNP’s Editorial Board also wrote in opposition to a bill I sponsored (Senate Bill 1277) to allow parents to have the final say over what explicit materials their own child is exposed to in school curriculum and libraries.

It’s important to note that LNP has also not published uncensored or censored copies of the explicit images found in Lancaster County school curriculum and libraries that caused parents concern in the first place.

How could a reasonable person argue that explicit images in books and video footage from a drag show are appropriate for school-aged children when those same uncensored images / video footage cannot be published in a newspaper for adults?

Refusing to acknowledge the increase in explicit content being pushed on to children only feeds into the genuine fear of the oversexualization of children. Indeed, the main argument we heard against Senate Bill 1277 was that children are already seeing this type of content on their cell phones.  So, instead of working to protect children by limiting the content, opponents want to offer more of it and LNP appears to defend them.

The LNP editorial said, “There seems to be a fundamental lack of understanding at work here — and little effort to try to understand.” I agree. But before LNP attempts to “educate” parents on why they shouldn’t be outraged over barely dressed dancers performing in a sexually suggestive manner for children, they should take their own advice to understand the real issue. Pushing sexual content on children is not just unnecessary, it’s wrong and parents are justified in their outrage.

At the end of the day, schools exist to educate children from all backgrounds and should teach students to be loving and accepting of every individual. Reasonable people can agree that this can be achieved without the use of sexually explicit materials and performances.

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