'Drag Race'-styled High School Event Outrages Pennsylvania Community

Sunday May 1, 2022
Originally published on April 30, 2022

Screenshots of performers at a high school drag event at a Pennsylvania high school this past Monday.
Screenshots of performers at a high school drag event at a Pennsylvania high school this past Monday.  (Source:Twitter)

A Pennsylvania school district has gone down hard on a teacher who supervised a "RuPaul Drag Race" event at a high school.

Anyone who watches "RuPaul's Drag Race" knows that the show's gay-positive outlook has become its overreaching theme. Time after time, a contestant speaks of being bullied, or experiencing homophobia, and Ru is on hand to apply a balm of inclusivity and self-worth to encourage the queen to overcome the obstacle.

Little wonder that the show has become a huge success with teens, especially teenage girls, as the Huffington Post wrote in 2018. "Since its February 2009 debut, the groundbreaking reality show — in which drag queens compete in assorted, creative challenges for the title of America's Next Drag Superstar — has followed in the footsteps of cultural sensations like The Beatles and "The O.C." in amassing a fan base of teenage girls."

That may be why there was an after-school drag show at a Pennsylvania high school on Monday, April 25. Teens know and love "RPDR." And it was the third year that such an event has occurred. That it hasn't been an issue before may be a question that needs to be raised. What little coverage of the earlier events came from Christian news outlets, such as CBN News, which wrote in 2019; "A high school located in southeastern Pennsylvania was scheduled to host a drag show during school hours on Wednesday.  It's a part of an all-day event highlighting LGBTQ issues at the school."

But what is indicative of the changing climate in American education with LGBTQ issues, notably the passing of Florida's controversial "Don't Say Gay" bill, this year's show was followed with parental outrage, stern statements from the school administration, and the suspension of the teacher who put the event together.

In the show, which was open to any of the Hempfield School District students to attend, there were performances by a number of professional drag queens who were asked to attend by the teacher behind the event. In a TikTok post, she wrote: "I don't know how to explain the sheer joy i feel in my bones when these queens come take time out their busy schedules to perform for us (year3!) And be with my students. as GSA co-advisor and queer teacher, it makes me emotional to think of the space we have created — I would have loved nothing more than to have a space like they have, an opportunity to attend their own drag show.. and to have these beautiful role models to support them. To model kindness, acceptance, perseverance, confidence, community, my closeted high school self finds so much healing in days like today. we all espy permission to be ourselves. for some of us, we have to be the ones to celebrate ourselves. days like today are my why. je vous aime tous."

But when a picture of the teacher and four drag performer circulated on social media, some parents became outraged, writes ABC27.com. "In the picture circulating on social media, the teacher is standing with what appears to be four drag queens in revealing clothes, one of whom appears to have their backside exposed."

The school district would not confirm the identity of the teacher, but it did say an individual has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.

The school district administration said in a statement they apologize to students, parents, and the community.

"We are appalled at what took place and in no way condone this type of activity in our schools. Neither the dress of the invited guests nor the performance was appropriate in our school setting. We are taking the incident seriously in our ongoing investigation and follow-up actions. It is important to district administrators that the district has the trust and confidence of the community, and we realize that an incident such as this completely undermines that trust. We commit to completing a thorough investigation and holding those involved accountable, up to and including disciplinary action that is commensurate with any findings."

It leaves to you wonder how outraged these parents would have been if the show resembled Lexi's original play seen in a similar situation on HBO Max's explicit hit "Euphoria."

On Twitter, a parent confirmed that parents were not required to sign a permission slip and weren't notified if their child would attend.

Twitter the response fell on both sides, with some supported the event on Twitter, many condemned it: