We may not be experts, but last time we checked, children were not adults. So why is the Washington Post promoting a Salonworthy opinion piece arguing that children should be exposed to “kink culture”?

Self-described “former sex worker” Lauren Rowello describes a family outing to the Philadelphia Pride Parade five years with her trans wife and children:

When our children grew tired of marching, we plopped onto a nearby curb. Just as we got settled, our elementary-schooler pointed in the direction of oncoming floats, raising an eyebrow at a bare-chested man in dark sunglasses whose black suspenders clipped into a leather thong. The man paused to be spanked playfully by a partner with a flog. “What are they doing?” my curious kid asked as our toddler cheered them on. The pair was the first of a few dozen kinksters who danced down the street, laughing together as they twirled their whips and batons, some leading companions by leashes. At the time, my children were too young to understand the nuance of the situation, but I told them the truth: That these folks were members of our community celebrating who they are and what they like to do.

This is all very healthy for children, according to Rowello:

The kink community has participated in Pride since its inception — risking their jobs and safety to be authentically themselves in public. Still, every year as Pride Month approaches, a debate erupts about whether kink belongs at Pride at all. Those hoping to oust kinksters often cite the presence of children as their top concern. That was pointedly the case this year when Twitter users argued that kink at Pride is a highly sexualized experience that children should be shielded fromThousands of users supported these posts, claiming that kink at Pride crosses a line because minors also attend events. I agree that Pride should be a welcoming space for children and teens, but policing how others show up doesn’t protect or uplift young people. Instead, homogenizing self-expression at Pride will do more harm to our children than good. When my own children caught glimpses of kink culture, they got to see that the queer community encompasses so many more nontraditional ways of being, living, and loving.

As much as I want them to spend time in queer spaces so they can be with families like their own, I also want them to know that they shouldn’t limit their understanding of what relationships or expression look like to whatever’s most familiar. I want them to see that they can make their own ways in the world — and know that they’ll be supported and celebrated by their community. If we want our children to learn and grow from their experiences at Pride, we should hope that they’ll encounter kink when they attend. How else can they learn about the scope and vitality of queer life?

Children who witness kink culture are reassured that alternative experiences of sexuality and expression are valid — no matter who they become as they mature, helping them recognize that their personal experiences aren’t bad or wrong, and that they aren’t alone in their experiences. I can’t think of a more relevant or important reminder for youth, who often struggle with feelings of isolation and confusion as they discover more about themselves and wrestle with concerns about whether they’re normal enough. Including kink in Pride opens space for families to have necessary and powerful conversations with young people about health, safety, consent, and — most uniquely — pleasure. Kink visibility is a reminder that any person can and should shamelessly explore what brings joy and excitement. We don’t talk to our children enough about pursuing sex to fulfill carnal needs that delight and captivate us in the moment. Sharing the language of kink culture with young people provides them with valuable information about safe sex practices — such as the importance of establishing boundaries, safe words and signals, affirming the importance of planning and research and the need to seek and give enthusiastic consent. I never want my children to worry that exploring any aspect of consensual sex or touch is too taboo.

No. No no no no no. Children are children and there is literally no good or logical or healthy reason to expose them to “kink culture” while they’re children.

How about children’s freedom to be children as opposed to pawns in your twisted crusade for acceptance? Adults are — in theory, at least — mature enough to try to make sense of “the kink community.” That’s not the case with children, no matter how mature they may seem. Toddlers shouldn’t be watching men in thongs flogging each other.

And parents who truly care about their children’s welfare wouldn’t be looking to “kink culture” to open the doors to healthy conversations about sex. Children should not be “exploring any aspect of consensual sex or touch.” Because they’re children.

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