I listened to the Kidz Bop version of “Born This Way,” and as Hilton noted, the LGBT verses were removed.
The following lyrics were completely omitted:
Don’t be a drag, just be a queen
Whether you’re broke or evergreen
You’re black, white, beige, chola descent
You’re lebanese, you’re orient
Whether life’s disabilities left you outcast, bullied, or teased
Rejoice and love yourself today
’cause baby you were born this way
No matter gay, straight, or bi
Lesbian, transgendered life
I’m on the right track baby
I was born to survive
No matter black, white or beige
Chola or orient made
I’m on the right track baby
I was born to be brave
Oddly, the song still includes a reference to “capital H-I-M,” which might be a reference to God, but who really knows.
While I applaud the Kidz Bop folks for attempting the song without the specifics, I don’t understand why it’s so controversial to tell children, in no uncertain terms, that it’s OK to be black, white, beige, gay, straight, bi, lesbian, transgender or any of the things omitted from the edited song.
It’s one thing to send the be-comfortable-in-your-skin message, but it’s more powerful if we tell kids that it’s OK for other people, specifically THESE people, to be different, too.
It’s common for the group to record gritty pop covers with edited lyrics. For example, in Ke$ha’s dance anthem “Tik Tok,” the lyrics “Before I leave, brush my teeth with a bottle of Jack,” reference using Jack Daniels for the purposes of oral hygiene. In the Kidz Bop version, the lyrics are changed to “brush my teeth and then I go pack.”
That makes sense, though I don’t know any adults who actually brush their teeth with liquor. Most of us prefer to drink it before attempting to listen to Ke$ha’s music.
According to their website, Kidz Bop targets kids age 5 to 12. I know sex is not an appropriate topic for them to sing about. That said, why does sex even have to be a part of the conversation?
Maybe they’re holding these lyrics from kids because parents are afraid they’ll self-identify as gay. To that, I say the conversation is coming either way, be it now or later. If your boy is as effeminate as I was, chances are, he’s already heard worse than the song’s omitted lyrics.
Maybe they’re holding these lyrics from kids because parents are afraid they’ll have to explain what it means to be gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. To that, I say you can explain what these terms mean without discussing sex. Just like straight attraction is indoctrinated in all of us since the proverbial beginning of time.
Cinderella didn’t bang Prince Charming on film, but kids still understand the two were attracted to each other.
There’s no ignoring the fact that gay people exist, no matter the age of your child. In fact, I have a close friend who’s still bothered by the fact that his mother never talked about his happily partnered gay uncle, who could have provided so much support and affirmation had he and his “roommate” not be dismissed by the rest of the family. I’m sure he’s not the only one.
Bullying is a real issue these days — a really popular issue, too. When parents remove affirming LGBT language from the a kid’s universe, they leave a blank for strangers and peer pressure to fill. It’s companies like Kidz Bop who purport to be family-friendly, then miss the point in attempts to dodge a fact that can’t be ignored. Gay people exist, kids will learn that one way or the other, and teaching acceptance is a global responsibility.
I cannot celebrate this song with Hilton because it falls short of a more powerful message. Yes, we should encourage our children to be comfortable with themselves, but even more so, we should encourage them to accept the differences in others, not shield them from imagined harm.
Here’s the Kidz Bop video for (the edited) “Born This Way” —