by Reagan Reese
School districts across the country are using drag shows, parades, assemblies and proclamations to celebrate LGBTQ Pride month.
Some school districts that are promoting the events throughout the month of June are located in Washington, Oregon, California and New Hampshire. The Pride celebrations are a part of the growing push to expand lessons on gender identity and sexual orientation into the classroom, education advocates told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
“Public schools have pushed very unpopular ideas about sex and gender under the guise of ‘inclusion,’ when in reality, public schools have become less open to diversity of thought,” Alex Nester, research fellow at Parents Defending Education, an organization focused on parental rights, told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “These Pride celebrations are, unfortunately, not about treating people with respect or dignity. Rather, they signal to kids and families that only one narrative or viewpoint on sex and gender is welcome in schools.”
In Oregon, Eugene School District 4J hosted a “Pride Fest” on June 2 that included several activities such as a drag show and a clothing swap, according to a social media post. The event was sponsored by several groups including Planned Parenthood, HIV Alliance and Queer Eugene, a local non-profit group working to support “queer folks,” the school district calendar reads.
“Enjoy some free and purchasable goodies, participate in activities hosted by 4J GSAs [Gay Straight Alliance club] and affinity groups, receive LGBTQIA+ resources from community organizations, watch some amazing queer performances by students and community members, and so much more,” the district calendar reads. “The first 1,000 students will receive a rainbow goodie bag with some fun rainbow swag!”
Manchester School District in New Hampshire received $4,000 in COVID-19 relief funds to pay for “drag performers” and “Pride decorations and swag” at its June 2 high school Pride event. The event featured food, music, LGBTQ+ affirming organizations and a photo booth.
Student members of GSA clubs at Muskegon High School, Ravenna High School and Oakridge High School, located in Michigan, decorated a float for the town’s June 3 Pride festival that includes drag performances and children’s activities, according to ABC 13 News. Students painted posters that read “protect trans rights” and “love is love” while being surrounded with mini Pride flags.
The “Grand Marshall” of the Pride festival is a “drag warrior and queer member icon,” ABC 13 News reported.
“We are preparing decorations for the Pride Parade,” Ethan Brewer, a Muskegon sophomore, told the outlet. “We have a bunch of pins and flags. I’m really excited for the Pride Parade and how it’s going to look. It’s really exciting. I’ve never been to a Pride Parade before.”
“Those fighting to keep drag shows as part of a K-12 public school curriculum further underscores what the fight in education is really about today,” Tiffany Justice and Tina Descovich, co-founders of Moms for Liberty, a coalition of parents fighting for transparency in education, told the DCNF. “It comes down to this: Are parents in charge of what their kids are exposed to and taught? Or is that something for a government employee to decide for them? We believe parents are in the driver’s seat of their child’s education – especially as minors in a taxpayer funded public school system. And parents want schools focused on reading, writing and arithmetic – not divisive social issues like transgenderism.”
Seattle Public Schools, the largest school system in the state of Washington, is joining other organizations such as Seattle Pride, a group that promotes “LGBTQIA+ pride events,” to march in an annual “family friendly” Pride parade on June 25, the district told the DCNF. Only staff members used to march in the parade, but now students, families and school board members participate as well, the district website reads.
A group of parents within the Los Angeles Unified School District planned a protest in response to a Pride assembly held June 2 at Saticoy Elementary school that included the reading of “The Great Big Book of Families,” which discusses different family dynamics including same-sex parents, according to the Los Angeles Daily News. The parents alleged in a social media post that the assembly was set to include a video explaining to elementary students that “some kids have two mommies, some kids have two daddies.”
“Los Angeles Unified remains committed to maintaining a safe, inclusive and supportive environment for all students,” a Los Angeles Unified School District spokesperson told the DCNF. “We are also committed to ensuring diversity and inclusivity, in accordance with California’s nondiscrimination laws, so that all students feel empowered to realize their greatest potential. This includes the recognition of the diverse communities that we serve. We remain steadfast in our mission to educate and prepare our students to thrive with the skills and knowledge to be ready for the world.”
In another California school district, Elk Grove Unified School Board voted to adopt a proclamation that deemed June as Pride month district-wide, according to CBS News. The adopted resolution notes that students who transition genders “have the right to have their names, pronouns, facility needs and participation in school athletics and activities be affirmed in their schools.”
The Chula Vista Elementary School Board of Directors in California voted to fly a Pride flag in front of its headquarters throughout the month in an effort to “inspire equity, create alliances, celebrate diversity and establish a safe environment in our schools and community,” the San Diego Union-Tribune reported. The flag will also fly in October, which has been deemed LGBTQ history month.
“Our primary objective in this meeting is to bring forth a stronger item that provides comprehensive support and protection for our LGBTQIA+ youth in the Chula Vista School District,” Francisco Tamayo, vice president of the board, said at the meeting, according to the Tribune.
Katonah-Lewisboro School District in New York announced that a rainbow flag will be flown in recognition of Pride month outside of each of its five schools, which includes one high school, one middle school and three elementary schools.
“In June, you can expect to see Pride flags outside each of our schools,” Andrew Selesnick, superintendent of Katonah-Lewisboro School District, said in a statement to the families which was shared with the DCNF. “We thank you in advance for joining in our efforts to assure that every student and adult feels a strong sense of belonging, every day.”
In Rhode Island, Moses Brown School is promoting a Pride parade on June 5 led by the “Lower School Rainbow Families affinity group” to “show pride and support for the LGBTQ+ community at [the] school,” an announcement showed. Attendees of the parade will receive Pride buttons, stickers and signs.
The parade begins at Moses Brown’s Lower School, which is for Pre-K-4 grade students, according to the announcement.
On May 20, Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland held a “Pride Town Hall” that featured “activities for elementary students and community building for middle and high school students,” the school website read. Different groups attended the event including “MoCo Pride Youth,” a group of middle and high school students working for a more LGBTQ inclusive environment, and “MoCo Reconnect,” an organization working to make LGBTQ students feel safe, according to a school social media post.
Books displayed at the “Pride Town Hall” included “Growing up Trans,” a collection of stories and poetry by transgender kids 11-18 years old, and “Middle School’s A Drag, You Better Werk!,” a book about a 13-year-old who signs on to a junior talent agency as an aspiring drag queen, the district’s social media post showed.
“From teaching students ‘neopronouns’ like ‘xe/xir’ to displaying asexual Pride flags, schools are signaling that they do not care about families with traditional views,” Nester told the DCNF. “They do not care about teaching kids to treat everyone with dignity. And clearly they’d rather focus on these efforts than academic achievement.”
Eugene School District 4J, Muskegon High School, Elk Grove Unified School District, Chula Vista Elementary School District, Katonah-Lewisboro School District, Moses Brown School, Montgomery County Public Schools, Ravenna High School and Oakridge High School did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.
– – –
Reagan Reese is a reporter at Daily Caller News Foundation.
Photo “Drag Queen” by cottonbro studio.