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Children do need protection

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Seldom do I feel the absolute need to respond to someone's published opinion piece; however, John Donegan writes his commentary "Weaponizing children" (March 16) as if his judgmental, partisan thoughts are the only opinions worth having. He even refers to himself in the column as "the rest of society." Get over yourself.

I guess the point of Mr. Donegan's article is that children need to be protected—but not protecting children in general, only from "drag queens," the latest target in the war by right-wing conservatives in an effort to force "the rest of society" to live like they do. The real point that screams from his column is actually the same old "liberals bad, conservatives good" line used by conservatives since there were conservatives. Oh, and, of course, throwing the required shot at the state of California for not allowing school teachers to beat up their students. Seriously, get some new material.

On the actual subject of cross-dressing, I have to ask Mr. Donegan if he really thinks this is something newly created by "progressives and liberals" simply to "outrage middle America," something they could do to "really piss those people off without getting arrested" because cross-dressing is "not illegal," because he states that this is their "obvious objective." That's not quite as obvious to me as it is apparently to Mr. Donegan, but thank you for at least making the point that cross-dressing is not illegal.

Speaking of illegal, though, I'm pretty sure it's illegal in most places to publicly display nudity and expose yourself to children. So Mr. Donegan, why are women allowed to wear completely see-through clothing on prime-time programs, such as the recent Academy Awards, which was watched by many children? What about how women such as JLO, Hailey Bieber, and any one of the Kardashians dress in public these days? Apparently, way less is more for all of these children's idols. Would you also object to your child being read to by JLO in a see-through, "no-pants" outfit? Would it make what she's reading sexualized?

I'm curious about why Mr. Donegan is all of a sudden condemning cross-dressing and drag as it's been around literally forever. I wonder if Mr. Donegan hates Shakespeare, since many of those plays feature cross-dressing that goes back to Elizabethan times. I wonder if Mr. Donegan is aware of popular kid-friendly TV shows and movies, such as Bosom Buddies, which gave Tom Hanks his start in Hollywood; the hugely successful sitcom, Mrs. Brown's Boys (so popular it has been made into a movie); Jamie Farr in M.A.S.H.; Nathan Lane in The Birdcage; Robin Williams in Mrs. Doubtfire; and Patrick Swayze, Wesley Snipes, and John Leguizamo in To Wong Foo; Kurt Russell in Tango & Cash—just to name a few examples of either prime-time television shows or popular movies that I have actually watched and found nothing offensive at all.

I would certainly let my children watch those if they so wanted. I would also have no more objection to my child being read to by a drag queen than I would an LGBTQ person, a conservative, or a liberal. If the idea is, as Mr. Donegan states, "to merely expose kids to different lifestyles," drag is a lifestyle like any other lifestyle. Simply because Mr. Donegan thinks a drag queen's lifestyle is wrong and it offends his sensibilities doesn't give him the right to criticize how other people raise their children.

I happen to think it's important that kids be safely exposed to the differences in people. This is what will end bullying, not as Mr. Donegan's "enforcing the rules and suspending bullies," meaning let's leave the raising of our children to the teachers in classrooms. Exposing children to anything and teaching children not to bully should begin at home with the parents and not left up to teachers, many of whom parents have never met.

Mr. Donegan states in his piece that letting a drag queen read a book to a child is being used by liberals to "normalize gender fluidity and sexual exploration." And that "these kids are being weaponized for the war on gender." Good grief! I'm not sure Mr. Donegan realizes just how silly that sounds.

How about instead we discuss a serious topic such as how our children are literally being weaponized by our elected lawmakers' refusal to even consider any sensible regulation of gun control in this country. They are turning children into actual weapons as these kids learn, from their parents and communities, that guns are good and to just take one to school and shoot the kids and teachers they don't like. Why don't we do something about that "weaponizing," which is actually murdering our children, way before we worry about a drag queen reading a book to a child.

If drag queens "polarize" you, Mr. Donegan, get a life. There are much more important and impactful issues to be "polarized" over than drag queens reading children's books to children. All you accomplished with your commentary was to further "polarize" people. As you say, "nearly everyone feels protective toward children," so why exploit them in the way you just did by using them to push your agenda of anti-drag queen and anti-liberal?

Instead of blaming liberals for everything you don't like, try starting a reasonable and sensible discussion by reaching out and asking how we can all help to make this a better world for our children. Δ

Margie Slivinske wrote to New Times from Arroyo Grande. Respond with a letter to the editor by emailing [email protected].

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