Which one of these professions jumps out at you?
Police officer, architect, drag queen.
Yep, you likely shared the reaction of a number of parents whose children attend Rocky Top Middle School in Thornton, Colorado.
It wasn’t just that a drag queen was invited to speak at the school’s career day alongside a cop and an architect — a major sticking point also is that parents weren’t notified in advance that a drag queen would be giving employment tips.
“I was pretty appalled,” parent Jen Payer told KDVR-TV, adding that her daughter wouldn’t have attended school Friday had she known what was coming. “I was pretty surprised. It was a shock because no one was notified.”
Another parent Heather Rogers added to the station that “this person is an adult entertainer and is talking to 12-year-old students about something that’s kind of adult nature.”
Who is the drag queen in question?
Ms. Jessica is a gay man who typically goes by the stage name “Jessica L’Whor” — but didn’t for this particular occasion, believing such a move wouldn’t be appropriate for a school setting, the KDVR said. Ms. Jessica was invited by one of her fans — a Rocky Top student — to come to career day, the station said.
The drag queen said the gig at the middle school was a chance to show kids it’s OK to be different, KDVR reported.
“I had a couple kids that were like, ‘I’m gay in school, and I get bullied every week, and I don’t know what to do, and just talking to you [helped me realize] that I can still be me and still be happy,’” Ms. Jessica told the station. “I got messages … like, ‘Thank you so much for coming to my class. I was having a really horrible week and you made my day.’”
What did the principal have to say?
Rocky Top Principal Chelsea Behanna told parents the event reflected the community’s diversity, KDVR reported.
“Jessica read a chapter from ‘Horrible Harry’ and she used the text to illustrate the damage bullies can do, the need to always put kindness and acceptance at the forefront, and the shortsightedness of judging a book by its cover,” Behanna wrote in a letter sent to parents Monday, adding that “students were completely engaged and asked lots of great questions,” the station said.
But Behanna ultimately did apologize to parents.
“I take responsibility for not notifying families ahead of time and apologize for any stress this has caused you and your child,” she wrote, according to KDVR.
What else did Ms. Jessica say?
Ms. Jessica told the station that parents’ negative feedback won’t be a deterrent from the performer speaking to kids of any age.
“I want to go to more elementary schools because of this experience at Rocky Top,” the drag queen told KDVR. “I’ve already reached out to a couple people about how to develop a Ted Talk.”