Right-wing media’s new strategy in their affront on trans and other LGBTQ youth is suggesting that children should be taken from their parents if they allow their children to interact with drag queens, be it through storytimes or age-appropriate drag performances. This latest narrative coincides with calls and actions from the right to separate trans and LGBTQ children from parents who support them.
Many right-wing outlets have called drag queen storytimes inappropriate or referred to them as indoctrination or sexualization of kids. Some right-wing legislators are now echoing this rhetoric, claiming they will move to ban kids from attending drag performances.
In general, right-wing media have recently ramped up their anti-trans and anti-gay rhetoric, calling LGBTQ people “groomers” and pushing anti-LGBTQ laws. As one example of this obsession, Fox News prime time spent more time bashing drag queens and trans people than covering the June 13 hearing by the House select committee investigating January 6 Capitol riot.
These most recent examples are an extension of how right-wing media attack trans kids and their families by baselessly and dangerously arguing that parents are abusing their kids by supporting them through transition and claiming that kids should be taken away from their parents. In February, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott redefined gender-affirming care for trans youth as “child abuse” and has ordered the state’s child protective services to investigate families of trans children.
In addition to the new policy in Texas, 18 states have banned or limited trans kids from participating in sports, and some have banned or are proposing to ban children from seeking gender affirming care. Right-wing media tirades against trans and queer people have also emboldened hate groups to target Pride events, including an attack on a drag queen doing a storytime in a Bay Area school by alleged members of the white supermacist Proud Boys on June 11.
The right-wing has seized on this moment to push an overtly anti-LGBTQ agenda:
Calling for children to be taken from their parents
Some media outlets and personalities called for parents who bring their children to drag queen storytimes to be prosecuted and have their kids taken away.
- Candace Owens of The Daily Wire called for parents to have their kids taken away if they take them to a Drag Queen Story Hour event. She added that such parents are “underqualified to have children. They should have their children taken away from them because it's child abuse.” [The Daily Wire, Candace, 6/15/22]
- Right-wing podcaster Steven Crowder claimed that progressives are opening the door to parents having their kids taken away if they don’t help the kids transition. “No one complained when you did it [Drag Queen Story Hour] at your private gay bars, no. But when it's at a public library with children, all of a sudden that’s where you get people I guess guilty of hate speech,” he added. [BlazeTV, Louder with Crowder, 6/14/22]
- Babylon Bee CEO Seth Dillon tweeted that parents who take their kids to drag shows should be arrested: “We need a show called ‘To Catch a Groomer’ where cops organize fake ‘family-friendly’ drag shows and then arrest all the parents who show up with their kids.” [Twitter, 6/5/22]
- Washington Times columnist Tim Young said parents taking their kids to drag shows “deserve no rights in this country” and “at the very least” should “be in jail.” [Twitter, 6/4/22]
- On The Faulkner Focus, Fox News Radio host Jimmy Failla claimed,“There was a time in this country of just a little more decency, where if someone even voiced the idea of taking your kid to a drag show, they would be arrested.” [Fox News, The Faulkner Focus, 6/7/22]
Calling drag performers groomers or claiming they’re indoctrinating kids
Some on the right claimed that drag queens performing at schools is part of a plot to indoctrinate and confuse children about gender. They frequently claim this is an effort to groom children.
- Referring to a comment Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel made defending drag queens, former Trump adviser Steve Bannon asked, “Why are they trying to ram these drag queens … into elementary schools.” In the interview, Nessel’s challenger, Michigan attorney general candidate Matt DePerno claimed drag shows were “oversexualization of … children.” Bannon called it an “outright attack on the family structure” because of the “focus on the children.” [War Room: Pandemic, 6/16/22]
- Hannity claimed that drag queens in schools are “not age appropriate” to which his guest former Trump administration official Ben Carson responded, “The immature mind is not ready to deal with ‘am I girl or am I boy,’ any more so then a third grader is equipped to deal with calculus.” [Premiere Radio, The Sean Hannity Show, 6/14/22]
- On One America News Network, host Dan Ball brought up drag queens performing for kids in New York, saying that it was an inappropriate activity and use of money. “What I'm saying, OK, don't groom the kids, period, point blank, put the line in the sand. And I don't get how Democrats out there have approved of and even funded the events like the one I was telling you about in New York with our tax dollars. This is where we all as parents need to draw the line and I don't care if you're a Republican, Democrat, liberitarian, independent, green party, tea party, it doesn't matter. If you got kids, you should be saying no, enough.” [OAN, Real America with Dan Ball, 6/15/22]
- OAN’s Alicia Summers complained about the Drag Queen Story Hour programs in New York City and alleged they were indoctrinating children: “According to reports over the weekend, the city spent over $200,000 in taxpayer funds since 2018 on the nonprofit Drag [Queen] Story Hour NYC to have drag performers read students -- read the students at schools. The organization claims they are promoting inclusivity, creativity and acceptance by exposing children to gender ideology and other sexual topics.” [One America News Network, 6/13/22]
- Conservative commentator Dominique Samuels tweeted that drag queen events are inherently “sexually suggestive,” writing, “The idea that children should be involved in Drag Queen events is despicable. Sexually suggestive performances and behaviour in the name of ‘diversity’ and ‘inclusivity’ is just an excuse for perverts and left-wing ideologues to brainwash your children.” [Twitter, 6/13/22]
- Right-wing podcaster and former OAN host Liz Wheeler accused the “left” of trying to “groom” children: “We should absolutely NOT be exposing children to drag queen shows! But the Left is trying to groom your children into thinking it’s okay… and parents are falling right in line.” [Twitter, 6/16/22]
- On Infowars, guest host Owen Shroyer complained about a young person performing in drag, saying, “We can’t stop pedophiles getting access to kids and calling it pride,” adding, “We’re murdering babies by the millions every year. We’re turning them into strippers and prostitutes for liberals for Pride Month.” [Infowars, The Alex Jones Show, 6/8/22]