A school has backed down after urging children as young as 11 to wear “full-blown drag” at a Pride event, claiming furious parents created the risk of “disruption”.
New Mills School, in the Peak District in Derbyshire, sparked outcry over its “Drag ’n’ Rainbows” themed non-uniform day on June 16, to mark global Pride month.
In a letter to all parents, shared with The Telegraph, the secondary school said “we are encouraging all students of all genders to wear something rainbow or colourful” on what it was calling “Pride day”.
“They may express themselves by doing something small like wearing a tutu, make-up, or painting their nails, to going all out in full-blown drag,” the letter said.
It sparked a backlash from parents and some staff members at the school, while Robin Walker, the chairman of the Commons education select committee, said he was “concerned” about Britain’s teachers going “beyond what most people would see as reasonable” during Pride month.
‘Avoid any potential disruption’
Now, Heather Watts, the school’s headteacher, has scrapped the event.
She said in a statement on Wednesday: “As a school we want to support all our pupils and were happy to support our student LGBT group to organise the event planned for Friday June 16.
“Due to stories that have appeared in the national press I have now received a large number of emails, both supporting the event and expressing their concerns about the event.
“I have today taken the decision to cancel Friday’s event, to avoid any potential disruption to the school on that day, when many of our pupils will be taking GCSE exams.
“Although we support diversity, I have to consider the well-being of all our pupils and with a large number of students taking their exams I have to consider the potential impact of any distractions.”
‘Safeguarding gone out of the window’
The furore started after a letter was sent to all parents from Thomas Robertson, a senior leader in New Mills’s science department, who insisted that “drag is an art form” and announced the school would offer a drag-themed catwalk.
He also said “free drag stations” would be offered at break and lunchtime and that Sab Samuel, who runs the controversial Drag Queen Story Hour UK group, would be invited to discuss homophobia and “suicide data” with Year 9 and Year 10 pupils, aged 13 to 15.
It prompted an insider at the school to tell this newspaper that “drag is a highly sexualised parody of women; fine on the stage, not fine in schools”.
Meanwhile, the parents’ group Safe Schools Alliance UK said “once again, safeguarding has gone out of the window”.
New Mills School said it would now seek the views of pupils, staff and parents on “what alternative events we could organise in the future to celebrate Pride”.
* Article From: Telegraph