In Europe, America, Latin America, Africa, and in some countries of Asia, there are genuine forms of ideological colonization taking place. And one of these – I will call it clearly by its name – is [the ideology of] “gender”. Today children – children! – are taught in school that everyone can choose his or her sex. Why are they teaching this? Because the books are provided by the persons and institutions that give you money … [and] are also supported by influential countries. And this terrible! – Pope Francis, From a Meeting with the Bishops of Poland on the Occasion of World Youth Day, July 27, 2016
Pope Francis has repeatedly condemned gender ideology, calling it a “mistake of the human mind,” even “demonic.” In Amoris Laetitia (56), the Holy Father expressed his grave concern that public school systems are indoctrinating children with this concept of gender fluidity. In a 2015 in-flight press conference, he compared it to the methods of the Italian Balillia or Hitler youth, to “take the need of a people to seize an opportunity to enter and grow strong–through the children.”
The reality is that proselytizing by LGBTQ activists is going beyond classroom walls in order to target a larger and ever-younger audience. Some of the biggest names in children’s entertainment such as Disney, Nintendo, and Crayola are packaging LGBTQ messages in glossy, colorful, child-oriented media and merchandise. Children’s clothing lines by Target and J. Crew carry messages such as “Pride Kids” and “Love First” respectively. Thanks to the American Library Association (ALA), story time may never be the same.
“Mickey Mouse Rainbow Love”
Since most Disney movies contain themes of misfits fighting for societal acceptance, some interpret that to mean Disney was always secretly sympathetic to the LGBTQ community. Conscious, however, of its family-friendly reputation, the Disney company has, until recently, been reluctant to take a public stand for LGBTQ causes.
For example, this year, Disney celebrated Pride Month by unveiling “Mickey Mouse Rainbow Love,” a hat which featured Mickey’s gloved hands forming a rainbow heart on the front and the iconic mouse ears colored in rainbow stripes. When asked if there was a larger message intended, a Disney spokesperson dismissed the question, explaining to the Huffington Post, “We offer a wide range of merchandise items that appeal to guests of diverse backgrounds.”
Increasingly, activists are demanding that Disney shed their restraint and begin to feature gay and transgendered characters in storylines. For example, there is a popular hash-tag campaign to give the character of Elsa from the movie Frozen a girlfriend in the upcoming sequel.
While uncomfortable, for now, with the idea of a gay or transgendered character, it does appear Disney is willing to redefine “family” in their family-friendly programming. A Disney cartoon for preschoolers called “Doc McStuffins,” featured a storyline in which a character had two moms. The show’s creator, Chris Nee, who is involved in a same-sex relationship, expressed her gratitude to Disney for helping to promote the program.
I have to be honest, I was …very pleasantly surprised that Disney has been happy to celebrate who I am and who my family is. [When] we talk about how my son [Theo] is the inspiration of this show, we’re also talking about my family …my partner Lisa, myself, and Theo. Kudos to Disney for that and I think we all know that the world continues to change. (afterellen.com)
Not Your Father’s Saturday Morning Cartoons
In contrast, to Disney’s more subtle approach, some children’s programming from Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon contain purposeful references to LGBTQ issues. A LifeSiteNews article identified Cartoon Network’s popular Adventure Time, and Steven Universe as programs which feature characters involved in same-sex relationships and who explore gender ambiguity. Nickelodeon’s Loud House recently introduced a bi-racial married gay couple as the parents of the main character’s best friend. Variety reported this development was met with “overwhelmingly positive reactions.”
The target audience for Nickelodeon is children ages 2-17; for Cartoon Network, children ages 9-14.
Beyond cable television, Netflix will launch a new animated series called Super Drags in early November. The show, which originated in Brazil, concerns the “adventures of three youngsters who seem to lead ordinary lives.”
[By] day, Patrick, Donizete, and Ralph work in a department store, … But when duty calls, they set their inner divas free to become Lemon Chifon, Scarlet Carmesim and Safira Cyan: three incredibly fabulous Superhero Drag Queens recruited to protect the LGBTQ community and spread glitter throughout the world.
“Where Dress Up Is Real”
In fact, drag queens are becoming a very effective means of selling the LGBTQ agenda, and not only as animated superheroes. Their real life counterparts are presented as role models for love, tolerance, and joy at being ‘whomever they want to be.’ The men who perform in drag are regarded as harmlessly playing an ultimate game of dress-up to which children are encouraged to play along.
The Drag Queen Story Hour (DQSH), was created in 2015 by writer Michelle Tea and Radar Productions in San Francisco. Tea’s idea was to promote gender identity, diversity, and inclusiveness by having actual drag queens read books concerning these subjects to children. As described on the Drag Queen Story Hour website:
DQSH [Drag Queen Story Hour] captures the imagination and play of gender fluidity of childhood and gives kids glamorous, positive, and unabashedly queer role models. …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.
According to the New York Times, after a “huge success” in the Brooklyn-area libraries, the program spread throughout the New York Public Library system. Shortly thereafter, the American Library Association (ALA), via its Intellectual Freedom Committee, gave DQSH its full support, offering workshops for those librarians interested in bringing the program to their branch.
“The Future of America”
Perhaps the most tragic result of this pushing of gender ideology on children is the spate of young “drag kids” who are given media platforms to sell the LGBTQ message to their peers. Adult drag performers such as RuPaul celebrate these children and, especially, the parents who encourage them. One such drag kid with the stage name “Desmond Is Amazing,” became famous following his performance in the 2015 Pride parade when only seven years old. Desmond is now an international star, someone RuPaul proudly proclaims to be “the future of America.”
Desmond has over 98,000 followers on Instagram.
Nine-year-old Nemis Quinn Melancon Golden, who performs as “Lactatia,” is heralded in TeenVogue as being as “impressive and magical as his name suggests.” In an interview, Lactatia advised his fans, many of whom are his age,
Anyone can do what they want in life. It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. If you want to be a drag queen, and your parents won’t let you, you need new parents. If you want to be a drag queen and your friends won’t let you, you need new friends.
“I Am Jazz”
But LGBTQ child celebrity is not limited to the outrageous world of drag. In 2015, The Learning Channel (TLC) launched a program titled, I am Jazz. It is a reality show following the life of teenager “Jazz Jennings,” born Jaron Seth Blonshinsky, who, with the complete support of his parents, is transitioning from a boy to a girl.
Before the launch of the TV program, Jazz told his story in the children’s picture book, I Am Jazz (2014) co-authored with Jessica Herthel. The book, geared to children aged 3 and up, was described at kirkusreviews.com as an “empowering, timely story with the power to help readers proclaim in the words of Jazz’s parents, ‘We understand now.'” Furthermore, “Jazz’s self-acceptance, bolstered by her family’s support and advocacy, acts as a beacon for readers, trans- and cisgender alike.”
Transgender Population Explosion
The number of people identifying as transgender is rapidly increasing. An article in the New York Times reported there are approximately 1.4 million transgendered persons in the United States, nearly double the number reported in 2003. In the United Kingdom, officials revealed the number of referrals for transgender support services has multiplied five times from 2009-2014.
Some believe that the transgendered population always existed, but is now becoming more visible due to increased awareness and acceptance. However, one researcher investigated the opposite possibility, that it is the secular messaging which is creating the population, at least among some children and young adults. Her research found some corroborating, if unwelcome, evidence.
The Social Contagion of Transgenderism
A study by Brown University Assistant Professor Lisa Littman investigated whether social influences, not physical/psychological predispositions, are responsible for what she calls, “Rapid-Onset Gender Dysphoria” in adolescents. Littman reviewed questionnaires submitted by parents of young adults (average 16 years of age) who suddenly demonstrated gender confusion when they reached puberty or shortly thereafter. Their children had not exhibited such indicators in early childhood.
Littman found evidence that these cases of sudden gender confusion occurred in adolescents “who were members of pre-existing friend groups with multiple or even all members becoming gender dysphoric and transgender-identified in a pattern that seems statistically unlikely based on previous research.”
[The adolescents] were immersed in social media, such as “binge-watching” YouTube transition videos and excessive use of Tumblr, immediately preceding … becoming gender dysphoric. These description are atypical for the presentation of gender dysphoria described in the research literature and raise the question of whether social influences may be contributing to or even driving these occurrences of gender dysphoria in some populations of adolescents and young adults. [emphasis added]
Not surprisingly, the publication of Littman’s study received a storm of criticism from transgender activists. They claim these results dismiss their legitimacy of their innate experiences.
The study was removed, with an apology, from the Brown University news releases. The Public Library of Science (PLOS.org) which published the study, is re-considering its decision.
“The Church Needs to Act Together”
Taken together, the secular campaign to promote same-sex and gender ideology to children is becoming a juggernaut. As is so often the case, the Catholic Church is essentially the only institution that stands in opposition to transgenderism.
Unfortunately, in spite of the strong pronouncements of Pope Francis, the majority of catechesis on gender ideology is tepid and often confused. Only one document pertaining to the issue can be found on the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) website, “Created Male and Female: An Open Letter from Religious Leaders” (2017). But this is an ecumenical letter whose signatories include only four Catholic bishops. Obviously, a much stronger response is needed and soon.
Presenting at a conference in Rome in 2016, Fr. Robert Gahl of the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross warned those in attendance that “gender ideology is threatening the freedom of religious expression, religious belief, and the freedom of the Church as an institution in many places.”
Failure by the Church to strongly and clearly counteract this “manipulation of human dignity” will have grave implications not only for society, but the future of the Catholic Church.
[Men] going into seminary today are already influenced by this [gender ideology] in the culture, so they need to receive a formation that is going to help them be mature in their own masculinity in order to help them become spiritual fathers.
Fr. Gahl’s admonitions are relevant to the ongoing clergy sex-abuse scandal. If there is to be any hope for a permanent resolution, Church leaders must acknowledge the insidiousness of gender ideology. If they don’t, there is likely little hope that they will address the issue of homosexuality in the clergy and the preponderance of same-sex abuse victims.
For the sake of the children and the Church, Catholics should, in the words of Fr. Gahl, implore “the nuncios and the bishops to stand together as one body, …and be convinced about the principles of our faith …because we’re more powerful when we act together.”