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DON WE NOW OUR GAY APPAREL

They may not want to admit it, but most men, when they were boys, tried, at least once, to walk in their mother's high heels. As far as we know, it didn't scar them for life, nor did it transform them into Harvey Fierstein. But you wouldn't know that from the folks in Spurger, Texas.

For years, that small East Texas town had a tradition in its school system. The tradition was called "TWIRP Day," when boys dressed like girls and girls dressed like boys.

"TWIRP" stands for "The Woman Is Requested To Pay," which alone should tell you how antiquated this practice is. In the spirit of a Sadie Hawkins dance, the idea was to switch traditional roles -- let girls ask boys to dances, let boys see what it's like to have doors held open for them, etc.

During the "good old days" -- you know, when the country was more conservative, less hormonal -- this tradition continued in Spurger year after year without complaint. But now, it has been shelved.

The reason? A 33-year-old mother complained that it was morally reprehensible to send this homosexual message to her 9-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter. She got a Texas-based legal institute to take her case and issue a press release.

"It is outrageous that a school in a small town in East Texas would encourage their 4-year-olds to be cross-dressers," the release said.

Poof. End of tradition. Sorry about the "poof" thing.

"My client didn't want her son to be dressing like a drag queen, that's all," Hiram Sasser, the attorney from the Liberty Legal Institute, told me when I spoke to him last week. "She has the right to keep him out of it."

She most certainly does. In truth, I don't understand why this TWIRP thing should extend to 4-year-olds, who can barely tie their own shoes, much less switch with their sisters.

But that doesn't justify the comments made by the mother, Delana Davies, who, according to the Associated Press, said she saw the TWIRP tradition as an effort to push a homosexual agenda in a public school.

"It's like experimenting with drugs," she said. "You just keep playing with it, and it becomes customary. . . . If it's OK to dress like a girl today, then why is it not OK in the future?"

Hmmm. I hope her kids didn't dress as Spider-Man for Halloween. They're liable to be eating flies by now.

Let's use common sense here. If a school district really wanted to push "a homosexual agenda," do you think it would be in tiny town in the heart of the red states? And do you really believe the school district thought of TWIRP as cross-dressing day? That's a label -- like the drag-queen label -- assigned to it by its newly incensed critics. But it works. It gets people upset. And TWIRP has been TRASHED.

By the way, guess what they put in its place? "Camo Day" -- in which all students can dress in camouflage.

Is it just me, or is there a new fear of homosexuality in America? In recent months, people talk as if being gay can rub off. That gays wanting to marry would rub off on -- and rub away -- traditional marriage. That gay football players could undo a team. That teen boys pulling on a dress -- even in jest -- could fall under a gay spell.

Come on. What we need to lose in this country is the fear that learning about people different from us will corrupt us. Talking to a Muslim doesn't make you a terrorist sympathizer. Listening to a Republican doesn't make you a liberal traitor. And sitting across from a homosexual doesn't make you "poisoned."

On the other hand, we do have something to worry about. "Isn't camouflage gear associated with killing things -- at the very least, animals, at the very worst, human beings?" I asked Sasser, the attorney. "What do you think about a 4-year-old dressing in camouflage?"

"We have no problem with that," he said.

Detroit Free Press

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