Alan Winslow: “Queering the classroom” and “White mob parents”


(This is a sequel to my Oct. 14 column titled “An Inexplicable American” that focused on Emily Drabinski, the new president of the American Library Association.)

Two questions for you to introduce this continued Emily Drabinski/ALA focus:

What is a “Drag Queen Story Hour?”

What does the expression “Queering the catalogue; queering the classroom” mean?


Drag Queen Story Hour

These are reading sessions for young kids hosted by libraries or other children’s venues around the country.

A drag queen, of course, is a man who dresses in flamboyant and often provocative female attire usually with exaggerated hairstyle and makeup. Accordingly, a Drag Queen Story Hour involves a drag queen reading stories to a circle of preschool or primary grade kids. Typically, these gatherings are meant to promote lesbian, gay, crossdressing and/or transgender possibilities for children. Sometimes, festive dancing is a part of the program.

Queering the catalogue; queering the classroom

This is technical jargon referring to librarians (or teachers) using the library (or classroom) for radical political purposes. The aim is to engage the patron (or student) in ways that seek to undermine acceptance of so-called systems of unjust social domination, especially the so-called white-Christian heterosexual American culture.

“Queering” requires a persistent and subtle challenging of supposed white cultural practices and behaviors (competitiveness, hard work, seeking excellence) that purportedly disadvantage other races and groups.

And “queering” aims to disrupt standard male-female heterosexual norms. The replacement norm accepts all sexual orientations, all gender identifications and all sexual desires as normal, perhaps even including pedophilia.

Now, please keep these questions and answers in mind as I return attention to Ms. Drabinski’s views.

ALA President Drabinski has promoted herself as a Marxist lesbian and adds, “I was excited to highlight and celebrate [these] two important aspects of my identity….” Indeed, there are many able people who proudly hold these identities today.

Ms. Drabinski also is a quality writer and thinker. At 48, she has numerous peer-reviewed professional journals and selected publications. She has presented papers and discussions at dozens and dozens of conferences in her discipline. She also has a history of being a fine networker. Thus, her election as president appears to be well-grounded in proven professional abilities.

But a significant national furor has erupted in response to her election.

President Drabinski’s Marxist political devotion has been especially provocative, and her public commentary and professional writing have raised alarms, too.

As a consequence, four states this summer severed ties to the American Library Association: Montana, Texas, Missouri and South Carolina. Four other states have started preparation to disassociate, including Idaho, Pennsylvania, Georgia and Mississippi. Plus, numerous local jurisdictions scattered across the country have said good riddance.

To try to understand this unprecedented backlash, let’s look in the direction of some additional public commentary:

According to the American Accountability Forum, in April 2022 in an interview with WNYC, she stated, “ … who could be against [drag queen] story hour. It’s just baffling to me.” And several weeks ago, Ms. Drabinski tweeted out guidelines and further support for Drag Queen Story Hours in libraries.

In a 2022 “Thought Project Podcast,” Ms. Drabinski complained about parents who sought to have “young adult” sexually and graphically explicit books removed from schools and libraries. She called these mothers and fathers “angry, white mob parents [that] don’t want Black people, Jewish people, gay people to exist at all,” (according to Fox News.)

Last month in Chicago at the Socialism 2023 Conference, Ms. Drabinski (she was called “comrade” by the moderator) stated to the applauding audience, “… But I think your point, that public education needs to be a site of socialist organizing. And libraries really do, too. … We need to be on the agenda of socialist organizing.” (recorded by Karlyn Borysenko, podcaster)

And for samples of her professional writing and its radical nature:

In 2013, she authored the paper “Queering the Catalog: Queer Theory and the Politics of Correction.” And in 2016, Ms. Drabinski was the keynote speaker at a college librarian conference in Pennsylvania and presented a paper, “Queering the catalogue; queering the classroom.”

Considering my above questions and answers, the new ALA president’s public comments and writings demonstrate her radical activist viewpoint.

My summary assessment of Ms. Drabinski?

As a Marxist, she must support Drag Queen Story Hours in order to liberate children from the oppression of rigid male-female sex roles, despite the confirmed developmental risk for children.

As a Marxist, she must work to “disrupt” the oppressive family norms of American life.

As a Marxist, she is compelled to identify America as an oppressor nation and white folk as race oppressors.

And for good measure, Ms. Drabinski is intolerant of caring parents who object to sexually explicit books made available to their children at schools or on public library shelves.

And the organization she is now president of, the American Library Association, is little different.

Alan Winslow, a resident of Seymour, occasionally writes a column for The Tribune. Send comments to [email protected].

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