The Slippery Slope: Private Teen Drag Shows in New Jersey
I just want to know what this teacher was thinking. I want to know what possessed them, and why they thought this would be a good idea. I want to know when schools became a safe space for adult perversion. The next time someone tells you this isn’t happening, be sure to show them this:
On October 27th, Hunterdon Central Regional High School hosted an invite-only drag show. This show was sponsored by the school’s P.U.L.S.E club (People Understanding Love Serves Everyone) and featured students performing drag for a private show with professional drag queen Kevin Gilmore (Phoebe Manntrappe) in attendance as a special guest. Who were invitations sent to? These invitations were sent via email by the club sponsor and teacher Heather Baldwin to select teachers and faculty members. Parents were neither notified nor invited, and students were not invited to sit in the audience. Select students performed and select adults were in the audience.
Events like these take time to plan and organize. You can’t put something like these together on a whim, nor can you invite a professional drag queen at the last minute and expect him to show up. How long were they planning this and how were they able to keep this a secret for parents?
According to a student (watch above), the drag show was meant to be a safe space for teens to express themselves and be themselves. That would be okay…if it were a student-only event off of school property. Students getting together on their own time, and doing their own thing without adults is fine. A line is crossed when the intended audience is adults. These kids didn’t see anything wrong with it because they’re kids. They’re vulnerable and don’t know better, and don’t always recognize a monster when they see one. This is the LGBT club, a group of kids who by their very nature feel like misunderstood, marginalized outcasts, and predatory adults took advantage of that. Yes, predatory. Any adult that encourages kids to keep secrets from their parents is predatory. Any adult that tries to convince kids they can’t be open and honest with their parents is predatory. Any adult that seeks to create secret spaces with children is predatory.
Let me be clear: safe adults don’t keep secrets with children. If this was such a positive event, then why was it done in the dark? Why was there so much effort to keep it a secret? If it was such a positive thing, then why keep the guest list short and selective? They could have set up an informational meeting with parents, allowing them to see the planning and purpose behind it. They didn’t do that, so the end result looked like cockroaches congregating at midnight in a dirty kitchen sink. Even if the kids were wearing their school clothes and drag make-up, the moment adults sat down in the theater is when it became inappropriate. Children should never become adult entertainment for adults. I don’t know why we have to keep saying this.
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