Manchester School District received $4,000 from Manchester’s Community Event and Activation Grant Program, which is funded through American Rescue Plan funds. The money, which was awarded on May 10th, will go towards hosting a “Youth Pride Event” on June 2.
Of the sum, $500 is earmarked “pride decorations and swag” while another $500 is slated to be used for “drag performers.” Another $150 is set to be for “lawn decorations.”
One flier advertising the event told students that the pride event would include a “Photo Booth” as well as “swag, food, entertainment and drag, LGBTQ+ affirming organizations, cake and more!”
Jennifer Gillis, the superintendent of schools for Manchester School District, stated that “As with other years, this is an after-school, extra-curricular, opt-in event.” She also remarked “Events such as this are consistent with the goals of our community-developed strategic plan, and in line with district policies.”
New Hampshire Department of Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut questioned the decision to provide COVID-relief funds for the pride event, asking “Is this really the best use of taxpayer funds?” Though $4,000 from the American Rescue Plan will go towards the event, it is projected to cost a total of $6,000.
Meanwhile, Manchester School Board Member Jim O’Connell spoke out in support of the drag performance for minors, saying “I don’t have any problem with a youth pride event for our LGBTQ students and others.”
Tina Kim Philibotte, the chief equity officer for the Manchester School District, also spoke out in favor of the drag event, saying “Joyful spaces where LGBTQ+ youth feel loved, celebrated, and centered is the work of public education.”
The school district was hit with a lawsuit after one parent discovered that school staff were using alternative pronouns to refer to her child. The mother claims that, although she requested that her child be referred to by pronouns that reflected her child’s sex, the principal informed her via email that her instructions had been overridden by district policy.