As is the case before every major election, conservatives at all levels of government have a handful of buzzwords they can use to get their voter base riled up. As Daily Kos continues to cover, trans youth using the bathroom and playing sports is one of the biggest ones, as are calls to ban or even burn books that belong to public schools and libraries. What else? Conservatives absolutely lose their minds over drag queens, too, especially when it comes to totally normal, inclusive activities like story hours and library events.
Largely thanks to the anti-LGBTQ+, conspiracy theory-laden Libs of TikTok Twitter account (you can read more in-depth about Libs here), the Hempfield School District in Pennsylvania has issued an apology for an after-school drag event organized by an openly queer teacher for the high school’s Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA), according to LGBTQ+ outlet them. Far-right and conservative outlets have been covering this event with fervor. The district issued a statement saying they’re going to investigate the event. The district noted an “unnamed” person has been placed on administrative leave per the investigation, and that disciplinary action may be on the table for those involved.
The district has not released the teacher’s name, but them reports that the GSA adviser is Kelly Tyson, who works as a French teacher at the school. Local outlet FOX 43 identifies English teacher Carla VicidominiIt as the other co-adviser for the GSA. It appears Tyson’s social media has been deactivated, but Libs of TikTok posted an alleged screenshot from her Facebook account.
In the post, Tyson describes her “sheer joy” at organizing such events and shares that it makes her emotional to provide such a space. “I would have loved nothing more than to have. space like they have, an opportunity to attend their own drag show … and to have these beautiful role models to support them,” the post reads in part. Tyson added that it’s the third year she’s organized such an event.
Of course, the Libs account presumably posted this content to be damning, but Tyson sharing about her closeted high school self and the safe space she’s trying to provide for students today is actually quite touching. Unfortunately, according to them, the production company reportedly involved in the event says they’re now receiving death threats.
Why? It seems Harrisburg 100, a conservative local outlet that describes the cast as “erotic dancers,” incorrectly reported that the drag queens were contracted via DePiro’s Divas, a local drag show production company, but a spokesperson for the group told them the performers actually participated in the event individually. Either way, the death threats are still horrifying and unacceptable.
Interestingly, the school district doesn’t seem to be taking the side of the GSA or the teacher involved in organizing the event. A statement from the district says they are “appalled” and don’t “condone” this type of activity in schools. “Neither the dress of the invited guests nor the performance was appropriate in our school setting,” the statement reads in part, adding that there will be a “thorough investigation.” Again, this statement is confusing when compared to the Facebook post allegedly by Tyson, in which it seems this is not the first time such an event has taken place.
Does the amount of conservative backlash have an impact here? It’s definitely possible. Republican state Sen. Ryan Aument, for example, took to Facebook about the event, writing that he was in touch with Superintendent Mike Bromirsi twice on the phone about the show.
According to FOX 53, Aument is now using the incident as leverage to introduce a bill that would require public schools to identify “sexually explicit” content in school curriculums and give parents notice about such content.
“Very specific descriptions and visual depictions of sexual acts,” Aument told the outlet. “That really is the heart of what we’re talking about.” He was not then able to offer a specific definition of “sexually explicit,” but that he felt the drag show would have counted.
The book banning; the lack of access to safe, age-appropriate health care; the bathroom bills; the grooming rhetoric … It’s all related. Everything about being LGBTQ+ is reduced to sexuality, and at that, inappropriate and predatory sexuality. We’re told it’s not about sexuality or gender identity, that it’s about appropriateness, but when people believe being LGBTQ+ is inherently wrong, there’s no way for us to be right unless we stop existing.
Anyway, remember when students in Kentucky dressed in lingerie for a pep rally and gave lap dances to adult staff? Yeah, that happened! And some parents, somehow, didn’t think it was a big deal. Funny how that happens …
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