THORNTON, Colo. (CBS4) — A school district has apologized to parents after hosting a drag queen as part of a career day. A spokesperson for Adams 12 Five Star schools said Rocky Top Middle School staff should have notified parents a drag queen would be speaking to their children before allowing the speech to happen.
Students at Rocky Top in Thornton range from 6th to 8th grade. The drag queen, identified as a woman who goes by “Jessica L’Whor,” is a relative of one student. The district confirmed she was invited to attend career day.
“I knew it was going to be controversial because that was nothing that would be allowed when I was in middle school,” L’Whor said. “At the same time, it opened up a door for conversation.”
District spokesperson Joe Ferdani said staff believed the visit by L’Whor would demonstrate their inclusiveness of all, no matter how they prefer to dress.
“The school’s focus is to have an event that is representative of the diverese backgrounds and careers in the community,” Ferdani said.
L’Whor said dressing in drag is her career. She told CBS4’s Dillon Thomas her work takes her around the country and often leaves her working six days per week.
L’Whor did not perform for the students, rather electing to read a book which addressed bullying.
“The book talks about bullies, and the negative things that can happen through being bullied,” Ferdani said.
One student’s parent sent CBS4 an email, saying in part, “Parents are in an outrage, and this is so inappropriate on so many levels.”
L’Whor said she felt most students were educated by her visit.
“I went to four classes. In every class, one person asked me how to handle negativity and hate,” L’Whor said. “There were a lot of kids interested in how I could have the confidence to go out looking the way I look.”
While the district would not apologize to concerned parents for hosting L’Whor, they did apologize for not giving parents notice of the visit.
“Parents should have known in advance who was going to be speaking, and that didn’t happen in this particular situaiton,” Ferdani said. “Parents just needed to have more info, and context about what was going to be talked about, and some background on this individual, and they weren’t given that information.”
L’Whor said she hoped parents would see her visit as educational, rather than inappropriate.
“I would tell the parents, ‘I’m not telling your kid to go off and become a drag queen. I’m telling them to have the conversations. Because, it will come up in life.”
Rocky Top’s Principal apologized to parents, and said all future career day guests would be identified for parents to review beforehand. If a parent is against their child hearing from a speaker, they will be allowed the opportunity to pull their child from the speech.
Dillon Thomas is a reporter at CBS4 and a Colorado native. He believes everyone has a story, and would love to share yours! You can find more of his stories by following him on Twitter, @DillonMThomas.