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Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Starr Heaven Reading Fairy Tales–How A Drag Queen Reformed Kindergarten

“What about LGBTQ+ rights?”, shouted Pike Spanner from the back of the auditorium.  “I am a proud transgender woman, and my rights have been discarded like a slice of burnt toast”.  

Spanner was a local hero, former Fire Department Captain and hero of Hook and Ladder 424 before his transition.  He had been honored on numerous occasions for actions above and beyond the call of duty, actions that had saved many lives.  Although white, he had been embraced by the black community because of his matchless bravery in the countless fires of Oakley Gardens, a gross misnomer for one of the nastiest and most crime-ridden fire-prone slums of the city.  Oakley Gardens, typical of many African American communities, found his sexual transformation a bit unsettling.  

There was nothing woke about Oakley Gardens, the last bastion of machismo in the city, a neighborhood of pimps, gangs, and outlaws, so it was not surprising that despite Pike’s heroism and unmitigated support of the black community, they were just as happy when he – now she - was reassigned to a rescue squad in the city’s largest gay neighborhood.  “There’s room for gay heroism”, one Oakley Gardens resident opined.

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In any case the loud, stertorous voice from the back of the room startled the assembly, a group of profoundly progressive parents from a privileged neighborhood who were there to assure the passage of the proposed changes to the curriculum.  They of course had embraced LGBTQ+ sexuality as part of the social reforms necessary in a racist, homophobic society; but had seen reparations to the black man as the first and foremost priority of any structural change.   

They were delighted to see white shibboleths toppled and America’s racist history reconfigured to feature the contributions of the black man.  Teaching about the nature and origins of Emancipation Day,  and Martin Luther King Jr. Day would replace references to Independence Day, and Tuskegee Airmen Day would replace both Memorial Day and Veterans Day.  Jefferson, Hamilton, Adams, and Madison would be footnoted and reformed study guides would highlight Robert Smalls, Joseph Rainey, and John Lynch.

The parents, however, were hesitant to go whole hog on gender-positive curriculum changes.  In fact many had objected to the presence of Starr Heaven, a transgender line dancer from Miami who was to read gender-appropriate fairy tales to Mrs. Jacobs’ kindergarten class.  Fairy tales were a deliberate, ironic choice for Heaven, who was old enough to remember how ‘fairy’ was used as a bitter and brutal pejorative term when she was growing up.  The fairy tale she chose was about a little boy who was magically changed into a girl and who lived happily ever after.

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School administrators hesitated when they first met Heaven, for in her new sexual incarnation she spared no excess to display her femininity.  In fact exaggerated femininity was exactly the look she was after – a kind of kitschy,bitchy double irony – so her fanciful long black eyelash extensions, rouge, bright lipstick, bangles, tight skirt and super high heels made a statement.

When the principal demurred, she replied, “You wanted a woman, honey, and you got one”.

Storybook time got a lot of press, half and half.  The progressive activists in the city were delighted as was the large gay and transgender population.  Conservatives were expectedly nonplussed at the outrage.  “Kindergarteners!”, they shouted.  “Of all things!”.  

It was a tough call for the parents of the school, for they were on record applauding the city council’s aggressive, proactive move to promote transgender rights; but were concerned that such activism would actually promote sexual transformation in their healthy, happy, boys and girls.  They finally gave in to their political selves, and went along with the school’s radical policy.

The town meeting in the school auditorium was a deal breaker; and the angry demands from Pike Spanner could not be ignored.  If he had his way, gender choice and transformation would be institutionalized from kindergarten to graduation and would take a place equal to that of people of color.  

‘Fairy’ tales would be commonplace, gender-switching role play would replace ring-around-the-rosy, and children would be encouraged to come to class as another gender.  It was one thing to learn at an early age about how the white race was oppressive and racist, how the black race was inherently superior, how African civilization was not only the home to Lucy, the first human being, but the cultural inspiration of Ancient Greece and Rome, another to teach that gender was fungible, and that gender choice and not biological imperative was the true reality of the day.   It was one thing to have white students bow before their black classmates in obedience and respect, another to have Johnny dress like Jacinda and whirl his skirts in a fandango.

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When Pike Spanner had sat down, the assembly was silent.  Only a nervous cough and rustle or two were heard; but no one seconded the motion or rose in protest.  Their silence was taken by the school administrators and school board member as approval if not complicity, and a motion was passed to energize the gender portions of all curricula, to feature transgender life, and to promote a truly inclusive course of study.

The school board presented the new curricula in very safe, temperate language but knew that it was only window dressing.  It only suggested the radical education that was about to come.  “The new curriculum”, the draft proposal began, “will encourage students to understand their racial, ethnic, religious and gender identities; and they will learn to identify different kinds of family structures, including single-parent, grandparent-headed, multiracial and LGBTQ+”.

The Janeway School was one of the few white majority schools in the city; but downtown administrators approved without hesitation the recruitment of an all-black staff who had been given the new, approved, racial training designed by progressive educators in Philadelphia.  The training showed new teachers how to use race as the context for all teaching of history, social studies, reading, and even math, how to use resource materials such as Starr Heaven appearances and gender choice role play, and how to invert the racial pyramid so that whites were on the bottom.

Now, under the new gender mandate, the search was on for gay and transgender teachers who, because of sparse demographics were given a racial bye – white transgender teachers would be allowed.

The experiment lasted only one year, for under Principal LaShonda Evans, herself a transgender woman and black activist, the school became a burlesque hall, a vaudevillian show of blackface, whiteface, drag queens, and runway tarts; and up-in-arms parents demanded and got her ouster.  Although it took another year to undue the damage already done, Janeway did return to the three R’s, factual history, and social accuracy.

As for Pike Spanner, he went back to his beer-drinking macho self, returned to his hook-and-ladder company, and garnered even more commendations and honors for courage above and beyond the call of duty.  The residents of Oakley Gardens greeted him like a long-lost brother and treated him like one of their own.

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