Drag Queen or AR-15? Which of these Will Kill Your Teen?



“You ban books. You ban drag. Kids are still in body bags,” protesters in Nashville, TN chanted after a school shooting on March twenty-seventh that resulted in the deaths of six people; three students and three faculty/staff members. This is not to mention the total of 180 students who were traumatized by the experience of witnessing this shooting and watching as their peers and teachers lost their lives. Instead of addressing this issue, states like Tennessee have chosen to ban drag, but then insist on sending their thoughts and prayers to families, students, and staff who have experienced, witnessed, and even lost their lives in countless shootings like this. To say that this is not more devastating to children’s lives than drag performances, none of which have resulted in a child’s death by drag queen, is truly an oversight by the United States and its government.

At least 349,000 students have been present during a school shooting. There have been 377 school shootings in the United States alone since 1999. 199 children and educators have been killed and 425 have been injured. However, many government officials in the United States seem to be oblivious to the fact that, since 2020, children in the United States are more likely to be killed by firearms than they are to be killed in a car accident. This can be particularly seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in November of 2020 when CDC director Robert Redfield said “The truth is, for kids K through 12, one of the safest places they can be... is to remain in school.” Today, I wonder if he would still say the same. With school shootings increasing in numbers, it is hard to say whether students being in school truly would have been the best way for students to stay safe. As seen in statistics made by the Washington Post, the year of 2020 saw a significant decrease in school shootings, and deaths as a result of them, due to the simple fact that schools were closed for the majority of that year. Had Redfield’s claim been trusted, and schools opened in the year of 2020, it would be likely that this claim would be proven to be inaccurate, not necessarily caused by the pandemic, but due to school shootings. This makes many question the fact that closing schools during a nationwide pandemic has protected students more than our government.

With all of this in mind, many ask, “Then why are we banning drag instead of guns?” The answer to this question is still unknown. However, the attack on the LGBTQ+ community continues to grow. The Nashville, TN school shooting only put into perspective the fact that nonsensical bans on drag were set in place, also in Tennessee, intended to protect children.

On March second of 2023, governor of Tennessee, Bill Lee, became the first to sign an anti-drag bill into law in the United States. This bill alone inhibits “adult cabaret performances” both in the presence of children, and in public in general. The description of these performances refers specifically to drag performers. Those found in violation of these laws can spend up to a year in jail and/or be fined $2,500. This is not to mention that subsequent violations may face the charge of a felony which can result in up to six years in jail.

In the year of 2023 alone, there have been at least 650 anti-LGBTQ+ bills crafted into existence if not already passed, demonstrating the clear attack on the LGBTQ community. This is nothing new for the Queer community. However, what makes this particularly frustrating is that the United States and its government has decided that allowing people to express their identity is more dangerous to adolescents in the United States than gun violence in schools which has already harmed 349,000 students if not more. The government has only just begun to inhibit the freedoms of the LGBTQ community, and it will continue to make this its priority, ignoring the devastating impacts of gun violence on adolescents across the country. Without legislature preventing these tragedies, the severity of this violence will only increase becoming more detrimental to the lives of children across the country than the United States has seen before.

But who am I, as a seventeen year old high school student, to say all of this. After all, the director of the CDC, Robert Redfield, said that schools are the safest place to be. Right?