Andrew Sullivan defended the practice of having drag queens read to kids at public libraries. Anything to get kids interested in reading, right?

But then Sullivan read an explanation of the practice on the website Drag Queen Story Hour. Here is what he read:

Drag Queen Story Hour captures the imagination and play of the gender fluidity of childhood and gives kids glamorous, positive, and unabashedly queer role models. In spaces like this, kids are able to see people who defy rigid gender restrictions and imagine a world where people can present as they wish, where dress up is real.

Andrew, who is gay, found this too much:

However well-meant, this is indoctrination into an ideology, not campy encouragement for reading and fun.

Sullivan develops the idea of progressive indoctrination of children in a must-read column in New York Magazine.

It’s been a while since I read something by Andrew that I agreed with, but this is a terrific article.

Sullivan’s “When the Ideologues Come for the Kids” takes its headline from an Atlantic story headlined “When the Culture War Comes for the Kids,” by Atlantic writer and parent George Packer.

Parents of children in the progressive and highly desirable public school Packer’s child attended realized something was amiss when their children arrived home desperate to go to the bathroom.

The school you see, had abolished separate bathrooms. It was to fight binary gender assumptions. The kids were “holding it in” until they got home. Sullivan observes:

As an analogy for the price of progressivism, it’s close to perfect. Authorities impose an ideology onto reality; reality slowly fights back.

The question is simply how much damage is done by this kind of utopianism before it crumbles under its own weight. Simple solutions — like a separate, individual gender-neutral bathroom for the tiny minority with gender dysphoria or anyone else — are out of bounds.

They are, after all, reinforcing the idea that girls and boys are different. And we cannot allow biology, evolution, reproductive strategy, hormones, chromosomes, and the customs of every single human culture since the beginning of time to interfere with “social justice.”

The second article quoted by Sullivan is one by a “woke teacher,” who sees special problems in teaching a group he identifies as “White Boys:”

I spend a lot of my days worried about White boys. I worry about White boys who barely try and expect to be rewarded, who barely care and can’t stand being called on it, who imagine they can go through school without learning much without it impacting in any way the capacity for their future success, just because it never has before.

Sullivan responds:

Children, in other words, are being taught to think constantly about race, and to feel guilty if they are the wrong one. And, of course, if they resist, that merely proves the point. A boy who doesn’t think he is personally responsible for racism is merely reflecting “white fragility” which is a function of “white supremacy.” QED. No one seems to have thought through the implications of telling white boys that their core identity is their “whiteness,” or worried that indoctrinating kids into white identity might lead quite a few to, yes, become “white identitarians” of the far right.

One of the key aspects about social-justice theory is that it’s completely unfalsifiable (as well as unreadable); it’s a closed circle that refers only to itself and its own categories. (For a searing take down of this huge academic con, check out Douglas Murray’s superb new book, The Madness of Crowds.) The forces involved — “white supremacy,” “patriarchy,” “heterosexism” — are all invisible to the naked eye, like the Holy Spirit.

Andrew, who always had been willing to recognize that boys and girls are different, believes that there could be devastating results from promoting such gender confusion: 

In the last few years in Western societies, as these notions have spread, the number of children identifying as trans has skyrocketed. In Sweden, the number of kids diagnosed with gender dysphoria, a phenomenon stable and rare for decades, has, from 2013 to 2016, increased almost tenfold. In New Zealand, the rate of girls identifying as boys has quadrupled in the same period of time; in Britain, where one NHS clinic is dedicated to trans kids, there were around a hundred girls being treated in 2011; by 2017, there were 1,400.

Possibly this sudden surge is a sign of pent-up demand, as trans kids emerge from the shadows, which, of course, is a great and overdue thing. The suffering of trans kids can be intense and has been ignored for far too long. But maybe it’s also some gender non-conforming kids falling prey to adult suggestions, or caused by social contagion. Almost certainly it’s both.

But one reason to worry about the new explosion in gender dysphoria is that it seems recently to be driven by girls identifying as boys rather than the other way round. Female sexuality is more fluid and complex than male sexuality, so perhaps girls are more susceptible to ideological suggestion, especially when they are also taught that being a woman means being oppressed.

In the case of merely confused or less informed kids, the consequences of treatment can be permanent. Many of these prepubescent trans-identifying children are put on puberty blockers, drugs that suppress a child’s normal hormonal development, and were originally designed for prostate cancer and premature puberty.

Shouldn’t feminist be worried that more girls are identifying as boys than boys as girls?

I am eagerly awaiting the reactions to Andrew’s observations by ultra-sophisticated New York Magazine readers.