After backlash from the community, a school district in Colorado has apologized to parents for not notifying them in advance that a drag queen, who goes by the name of "Jessica L'Whor," visited the school for career day. The district said it would not apologize, however, for inviting the drag queen to talk to the middle schoolers, a decision the school made in the name of "inclusiveness" and "diversity."
CBS Denver reported Monday that a spokesperson for Adams 12 Five Star school district admitted that the staff of Rocky Top Middle School should have notified parents in advance about what they knew would be a controversial event: the visitation of "Jessica L'Whor," who, dressed in drag garb, ended up speaking to four different classes of 6th-8th graders, reading a book on bullying, and answering questions about "negativity and hate."
L'Whor, a relative of one of the students, was invited to come speak on career day in order to, as district spokesman Joe Ferdani put it, help represent "the diverse backgrounds and careers in the community" and demonstrate the district's inclusiveness.
"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, CBS reports. "At the same time, it opened up a door for conversation."
"I went to four classes. In every class, one person asked me how to handle negativity and hate," said L’Whor. "There were a lot of kids interested in how I could have the confidence to go out looking the way I look."
L'Whor dresses as a woman professionally, a job that the drag queen says involves traveling around the country and often working six days week.
Rather than putting on a drag performance, L'Whor chose to read a book about bullying to the middle schoolers, said Ferdani. "The book talks about bullies, and the negative things that can happen through being bullied," he said.
Many parents, though, were not as enthused as the district about the choice to have a man dressed as a woman coming to talk to their kids without the school notifying them in advance.
"Parents are in an outrage, and this is so inappropriate on so many levels," CBS Denver was told in an email.
But while the district refused to apologize for having the drag queen visit the middle schoolers, Ferdani did offer an official apology for failing to notify parents in advance.
"Parents should have known in advance who was going to be speaking, and that didn’t happen in this particular situation," he 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."
The principal of the school also apologized and pledged to inform parents in the future.
L'Whor had a message for parents too: "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."
CBS Denver's report below: