While words like lesbian and gay are still whispered in hushed tones in India ( unless it’s the punchline of a joke), countries across the world have begun to accept the wide rainbow of the LGBTQ community. Despite the fact that it is borderline illegal to be anything but heterosexual in India (transgenders have basic human rights but nothing more), maybe our generation is turning out to be aware.
So when 26-year-old Thomas Canham, a Bristol University law graduate and part-time cross-dresser had a genius idea to teach children tolerance at a very young age, seven government-funded nursery schools in London jumped on board to help teach kids gender fluidity and reduce hate crimes in the future. As the nursery hopes to promote tolerance.
First things first, what are drag queens? They are men who cross-dress as women with exaggerated femininity, going out of their way with their hair and makeup. They may or may not be transgender and that is completely beside the point. They do however possess enough knowledge and let’s agree, the glamour to get the children’s attention.
How will they be educating the children? With nursery rhymes that normalize the concept of being gender fluid, the LGBT spectrum needs to be widened. Men dressed as women who are characters from Alice In Wonderland, “The skirt on the drag queen goes swish, swish, swish.” Is there anything more empowering than specially-adapted trans songs recited to kids! Not just that, naptime has stories about a teddy bear which realizes it is a girl and not a boy, while not belittled for her choice.
Amongst the drag queens is Donna La Mode, the famous transgender face who plays Alice, the larger than life character which catches every child’s attention. The concept behind the initiative isn’t to turn the children into drag queens or even promote them but to actually just introduce the concept of gender fluidity outside the stigma.
Foundation chief exec of the sessions, June O’Sullivan said to The Sun, “By providing spaces in which children can see people who defy rigid gender restrictions, it allows them to imagine the world in which people can present themselves as they wish.” He hopes the concept will be introduced across all the 37 centers run by the London Early Years Foundation. Apart from the nursery school in London, the sessions are also head for the public across the country.
While we aren’t sure of what to expect in India just yet, we wish Thomas the best for his storytime!