Adults have no right to impose their sexuality on children

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A set of unsettling images made the rounds on social media last week. In them, a lingerie-clad man, wearing a bra top, garter belt and fishnet stockings, is seen playing next to young children in a Lego pit at an Australian museum.

An anonymous Twitter user posted the images after complaining to security about the man and not feeling satisfied with its response. After investigating, the museum issued a statement saying it wanted to be a “safe place where everyone feels welcome,” and the man and his accompanying friend “had not done anything wrong.”

Welcome to yet another example of progressive acceptance being pushed to the extreme. Although it offers some consolation to know that the individual in question reportedly kept to himself, these types of incidents and the ambivalence they inspire reflect an increasing normalization of sexualizing children. We’re headed in a frightening direction.

In America, leftist activism has infiltrated schools under the banner of sex education, successfully molding the vulnerable minds of children beneath their parents’ noses. This has happened again and again, laid bare in grade K-12 classrooms by way of inappropriate educational materials like obscene class assignments, sexually explicit books and lessons about masturbation.

Approximately one in 10 students experiences sexual misconduct by a teacher at some point from kindergarten through high school, the US Department of Education estimates.
Shutterstock / Teran Studios

Some may argue, as I once did, that these materials are, by and large, misunderstood — that they are meant to encourage children to have healthy views about their bodies and offer them the necessary language to report sexual abuse if it occurs.

I revised my opinion upon realizing how this very open-mindedness about sexuality is being exploited by those with less-than-pure intentions.

US Department of Education research estimates that one in 10 students experiences sexual misconduct by a teacher at some point from kindergarten through high school. This translates to millions of affected children.

If you have doubts, consider a recent case in which a high school counselor who organized a drag-show performance for students was arrested for allegedly having sex with a 15-year-old girl attending the school. As someone who has had many drag queens as friends, I have to wonder why anyone would take it upon herself to introduce minors to a highly sexualized subculture.

Of course, educators — or parents, for that matter — shouldn’t be immediately suspect if they have progressive views about sexuality or are in favor of sex education. As a former academic sex researcher, I believe that we should lessen the stigma that surrounds conversations between adults about sex.

From my experience studying paraphilias (unusual sexual interests), many paraphilic individuals struggle with unwarranted feelings of disgust and shame. So I understand the desire to turn these feelings on their head and embrace and celebrate one’s sexual expression.

 Rebecca Riley, an art teacher at Yung Wing School P.S. 124, gives students a lesson in her classroom on January 05, 2022.
Whether or not educators should discuss sexuality and gender identity in the classroom has been a controversial debate for years.
Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

But this celebration should remain in the privacy of one’s home, not foisted upon unaware children. Most law-abiding people, whether or not they have a paraphilia, would surely agree. It is morally questionable and potentially predatory for an individual to knowingly expose children to any of these ideas or ideologies.

As to why someone would feel compelled to don fetish wear in public and in the presence of children, there are several possible reasons. Exhibitionists find it sexually gratifying to expose their private anatomy to unsuspecting people without their consent.

Somebody with transvestic fetishism, also known as a penchant for sexual cross-dressing, is sexually aroused by wearing women’s garments, including clothing and underwear. An extension of this is an exotic-sounding paraphilia called autogynephilia, which translates from Greek to “love of oneself as a woman.” It involves sexual arousal at the thought of having female anatomy and identifying as a woman when interacting with people.

Sexual masochism, or sexual interest in being humiliated and degraded, can be found in men who enjoy being forced, often by a female partner, to sexually cross-dress in public (commonly dubbed “sissification” in online spaces).

Paraphilic infantilism revolves around taking on the behavior and dress of a child and playing with children’s toys. This is not necessarily due to having a sexual predilection for children; however, choosing to voluntarily spend large amounts of one’s time in places frequented by kids, regardless of whether someone partakes in paraphilic infantilism, can be an indicator of pedophilia, which is the sexual attraction to prepubescent children.

Sexual abuse usually involves the process of grooming a child. This consists of spending large amounts of time with them, encouraging secrets and fostering a relationship with their family to procure sexual access.

Parents protest outside Miramonte Elementary School in Los Angeles, California February 6, 2012.
Parents across the nation argue talking about sexuality in classrooms is not only inappropriate but opens the door to exploitation.
Krista Kennell/AFP/Getty Images

Parents should know that they have a right to safeguard their children and to voice their discomfort in educational settings, at public events and otherwise. The depraved will continue exploiting those who are well-meaning, dismissing and gaslighting parents into believing this is the new normal.

Debra Soh is the author of “The End of Gender” and the host of “The Dr. Debra Soh Podcast.”

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