A North Carolina junior high school invited drag queens to host an event designed to encourage kids to be themselves, and the response from the community has been "overwhelmingly positive," CNN reports.
Eighth-grade teacher Taylor Schmidt says he noticed that gay kids at Central Park School for Children in Durham were getting bullied, even at higher rates than other kids in the school, consistent with the national trend of 70 percent of LGBTQ kids reporting bullying at their schools. So bad was the problem that many of Central Park's LGBTQ kids were leaving for other schools.
Stymied by what to do about it, Schmidt and his colleague, Schara Brooks, decided that the kids would benefit from an event encouraging acceptance and positivity. But what should that event consist of?
The two teachers reached out to Durham's House of Coxx, an advocacy group of drag queens of color who provide a "safe space" for LGBTQ individuals, particularly those of color. The group does events around the country advocating for equality and social justice, but queens Vivica C. Coxx and Stormie Daie say that the invitation from Central Park was the first time they'd been invited to a middle school.
Of course, they agreed.As The Greensboro News & Record reports, this week Vivica and Stormie hosted the Pride & Liberation event at the school, complete with song and dance routines, talking with the children, and messages about acceptance and positivity, all in full drag.
As the performers danced to Beyonce and Nikki Minaj songs in glowing, glittery gowns, a handful of students shrunk into their seats in embarrassment, but for every student who hid, a dozen more danced in the aisles.
One fifth-grader said the event truly hit home.
"I really, really, loved the Pride and Liberation celebration. I think it really showed and maybe helped others who are LGBTQ+ really see that they are not alone and that they can really express who they are."The response from the community has similarly been "overwhelmingly positive," says The News & Record.
Parents who didn't want their children to attend the performance were given the option of opting out, and about ten (out of 200) did. Similarly, Daie also did "Story Time With A Drag Queen" at a district elementary school that same day and parents had the opportunity to opt into the event. It remains unclear how many did.
John Heffernan, the school's director, said that his school did the right thing in inviting the drag queens. "We don't just have a right to do something like this. We really do it as a responsibility," he said.