A deluge of parents and taxpayers confronted school board members of Hempfield School District in Landisville, Pennsylvania, on Tuesday after a teacher invited multiple drag queens into the high school last month without parents’ knowledge.
As The Daily Wire previously reported, the after-school event at Hempfield High School was hosted by French teacher Kelly Tyson, the sponsor of the school’s Gay Sexuality Alliance (GSA) club — provoking shock from parents who were not aware of the event until after it had occurred. Tyson, who is now on administrative leave, posted Instagram handles for the drag queens on the learning management system Schoology, thereby giving students a means to contact the performers. All four accounts include lewd content.
A Pennsylvania teacher hosted a drag show event for students as part of the GSA club. Parents were reportedly not notified. The district has confirmed this morning that the teacher is on leave. pic.twitter.com/NSjkJELl6e
— Libs of TikTok (@libsoftiktok) April 29, 2022
“Some of you have tried to make us feel insignificant,” parent Meridith Hilt told the school board. “Our concerns have been 100% validated … they are actively grooming children.”
Crowds of people supporting Tyson arrived early to the meeting, which was attended by several hundred community members both virtually and in person. The demonstrators waved rainbow flags outside the district’s administrative building as passing vehicles honked in support.
Ahead of the meeting, parents told The Daily Wire that their presence at the school is “in no way, shape, or form” about the LGBTQ community. Several parents chose to pray around the administrative building’s flagpole half an hour before the meeting began.
Hempfield School Board President Grant Keener shared a statement from the board, which confirmed that the investigation into the drag queen event is “ongoing” in an “appropriate and affirming way.”
He also announced that two individuals beyond Tyson had been placed on administrative leave.
In a subsequent statement, Hempfield School District Superintendent Michael Bromirski discouraged parents from sharing “misinformation” that could impede the investigation — an admonition that was met with collective groans from meeting attendees.
The first speaker at the board meeting was Richard Boyer, one of the parent organizers who launched the Facebook page “Let’s Talk Hempfield,” which parents have been using to watch for inappropriate content in schools.
“You are not hated by the majority,” Boyer told the LGBTQ community. “You have been accepted by the majority, as evidenced by your physical presence and continued growth in the Hempfield district. Yes, there are individuals within the district who are ignorant and bigoted, but they do not represent the majority.”
Boyer, a disabled veteran who served in the United States Army for 20 years and currently works to help other disabled veterans, told The Daily Wire that his job had been threatened by progressive activists alerting his employers to his activism. “This manufactures false hate,” Boyer said in his speech.
Richard Boyer, one of the parent organizers, says that he does not hate the “LGBT community” and tells members to distinguish between “criticism” and “hate.” pic.twitter.com/wLRUR4stxm
— Ben Zeisloft (@BenZeisloft) May 10, 2022
Another parent called for an independent, external investigation into the after-school drag queen event. She also mentioned concerns over bullying, frequent fights, lax dress code enforcement, and sexualized material in curricula — concerns that other parents echoed throughout the evening.
“Just last month, in this very room, after bringing concerns forward, we were lectured to ‘trust the teachers’ and that our children ‘need to be stretched and feel uncomfortable.’ Is that really the role of these classrooms and clubs?” she asked.
Another parent says when parents formerly brought up concerns, they were told to “trust the teachers” and understand the need for their children to me made “uncomfortable.”
She calls for an independent, external investigation. pic.twitter.com/R94quBKmuB
— Ben Zeisloft (@BenZeisloft) May 10, 2022
Stacy Hernandez, a parent who The Daily Wire interviewed in previous reporting about the drag show, expressed concern over the school board allowing “filth into our schools” and the “exploitation of our children.”
“Our schools are overreaching and indoctrinating our children, which has created confusion and stress in the most vulnerable,” she said. “It’s a form of child abuse, and it’s about indecency in our schools and lack of leadership.”
Another mother told the school board it was “unfortunate that it took a small group of parents to discover that this event took place and bring it to your attention.”
“This group of parents had to do a job that someone in this school should have done,” she added. “It is highly likely that had this group of parents not revealed their findings, the show would have gone on and continued for years to come. That should concern everyone.”
She also condemned Tyson for allegedly asking children to bring “cash to tip the queens” and providing social media handles for the performers — which included “a video where they say ‘sex’ repeatedly while pretending to lick their boobs and performing oral sex, in addition to imitating doing cocaine.”
Another mom blasts the French teacher for posting social media handles for the drag queens and encouraging students to bring money and “tip the queens.” pic.twitter.com/ca9GqCiILA
— Ben Zeisloft (@BenZeisloft) May 11, 2022
“Recently I was told by one member of this board, ‘We have an obligation to challenge our children and create critical thinkers.’ I ask you — at what cost? I agree with you, we have that obligation,” she added. “However, you also have an obligation to provide a safe environment for our kids first and foremost.”
One speaker warned the school board members about a movement that has a “desire to gain access to our children at a young age.”
“This movement hides behind words like ‘inclusion,’ ‘equity,’ ‘social justice,’ ‘microaggression.’ We have seen this play out across the country,” he said. “We have seen in some school districts concerned parents labeled as ‘troublemakers,’ ‘aggressors’ — even ‘domestic terrorists.’”
Another parent discouraged activists from turning the discussion over the drag show into a “hate issue” and brought up concerns over bullying.
“We as parents are constantly hearing of bullying and fighting issues at Hempfield High School,” she remarked. “We are viewing videos of kids — my daughter shows me videos almost every day — being beaten repeatedly… What are we teaching these kids?”
Meridith Hilt, a co-founder of the “Let’s Talk Hempfield” page who The Daily Wire previously interviewed, said that “the boldness of these people is the direct result of the degradation and total disregard for parental rights within our school system.”
“We’ve been coming to you for months with concerns, and we’ve been scolded for not trusting the educators. Some of you sitting here have even accused us of disparaging wonderful people as we looked you in the eye and tried to force our concerns.”
“If kids feel upset or betrayed, it is a direct result of letting this go too far,” Hilt continued.
The first speaker in favor of the drag show appeared via Zoom with her camera turned off.
“While drag shows may be unfamiliar to many in this community, they have an historical legacy and an important context in both the queer community and the fight for equal rights. Many of the parents who are horrified by what they believe to be a video of the show that took place here seem not to understand this,” she commented. “These are teachable moments, in the appropriate context.”
She also condemned members of the community for using terms such as “groomers” and “predators,” as well as characterizing the drag show as “erotic” or “obscene.”
The first speaker in favor of the drag show appears via Zoom and lays into the community for their purported bigotry: pic.twitter.com/ppZO6nwnMi
— Ben Zeisloft (@BenZeisloft) May 11, 2022
In the latter half of the meeting, more individuals spoke in favor of the drag show — including GSA Vice President Miguel Angel, who said that “as someone in the LGBT community and as someone who was physically present at the event, and as someone who I like to think is educated enough to make the argument, I think that what the district is doing is wrong.”
In an interview with The Daily Wire, Peter Taraborelli — a taxpayer whose child is not yet old enough to attend Hempfield — called the drag queen incident a “failure of the system.”
“I attended tonight not to voice my opinion, but to show my support for those who were willing to do so,” he explained. “I wanted to be sure that what I saw as an overreach of an administration was properly shot down. The drag show was inappropriate.”
“I honestly believe this whole thing is a failure of the system,” he remarked. “The teachers don’t report issues because principals won’t have their backs. Principals don’t enforce the rules for fear of being hung out to dry by the administration. The administration doesn’t do anything because they can pass blame off to the lower levels, and the school board won’t make decisions because they care more about public opinion. Do I think this will change anything? Maybe in the long haul. Short term, probably not. Long term … hopefully.”
“Hopefully more parents get and stay involved. Hopefully more run for local positions and make a difference, because this crap has got to change.”
Hempfield School District’s media relations team referred The Daily Wire to a statement explaining that no information jeopardizing an active investigation will be shared.