This year’s Career Day at Rocky Top Middle School in Thornton, Colorado, featured a police officer, an architect, and to the ire of some parents, a drag queen named Ms. Jessica. Ms. Jessica, whose stage name is Jessica L’Whor, was invited to speak at career day by one of her fans, a 12-year-old student, and used the opportunity to speak out against bullying.
But that didn’t sit well with some parents. One upset parent, Jen Payer, told Friendly Atheist that she felt “very strongly” that having a drag queen at Career Day went against both her own religious beliefs and the school’s secular policies. She also said that there were many other parents who felt the same way and that as “Christian parents” they viewed Ms. Jessica’s inclusion as “unacceptable.”
Another parent, Heather Rogers, told news station KDVR, “This person is an adult entertainer and is talking to 12-year-old students about something that’s adult nature.”
But there was nothing inappropriate about Ms. Jessica’s presentation to the students. She even left off her last name, thinking that might not be suitable for children. She said she used her presentation to show kids that it’s perfectly fine to be different.
In a letter sent home to parents after the event, Rocky Top principal Chelsea Behanna wrote, “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.”
Jessica said the feedback from the students was positive. “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.”
She continued, “I got messages being like thank you so much for coming to my class. I was having a really horrible week and you made my day.”
Addressing the parents who were upset they weren’t notified that there would be a Drag Queen at Career Day, Behanna wrote in the letter, “I take responsibility for not notifying families ahead of time and apologize for any stress this has caused you and your child. Moving forward, a prominent step in planning for next year will be to share the guest list for all families prior to the event.”
Jessica is not letting any of the negative feedback from the parents affect her, though. Speaking to KDVR, she said, “I want to go to more elementary schools because of this experience at Rocky Top. I’ve already reached out to a couple people about how to develop a Ted Talk.”
You go, girl.
h/t Friendly Atheist