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Last week, high schoolers in a Wisconsin town not far from Madison had to endure a sing and dance routine by a French teacher from the school, who was dressed in drag. Shannon Valladolid, the district’s director of Information and Public Relations, reportedly admitted that staff performances are vetted by the high school’s teaching faculty.
French teacher Matthew Kashdan, whose LinkedIn page states he is “looking to shift away from K-12 public education and into higher education study abroad programming and advising,” performed for the students during Middleton High School’s Fine Arts Week.
“Kashdan strutted onto the auditorium stage in a high-cut, blue sequinned dress, red boots and blond wig, lip-syncing and dancing to ‘Rain on Me’ by pop divas Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande,” Empower Wisconsin reported, adding, “It was all a surprise to the assembled students.”
"Most of you know me as the French teacher, but now you will know me as the drag teacher!" Middleton students treated to this performance as part of "Fine Arts Week." (Middleton students are 47% proficient in math and 49% in language arts.) pic.twitter.com/bEFMIUxXmo
— Dan Lennington (@DanLennington) April 12, 2022
A Middleton-Cross Plains Area Schools parent alerted radio host Vicki McKenna in an email, writing:
I send my children to school and entrust them to teachers that I have to believe are professionals who won’t destroy their innocence for their own pleasure. If MATTHEW KASHDAN makes a decision to perform his drag show at school, what else does he do in his classroom with a roomful of children? What kind of educators thought this was appropriate? Drag shows are “fine arts”? If a teacher is a pole dancer or stripper, can they also perform for my children? … I don’t care what MATTHEW KASHDAN does outside of school. I DO CARE what he does at Middleton High School.
Valladolid declared in an email to Empower Wisconsin, “The week is full of performances that are enjoyed by students and staff alike. Performances range from music to dance to martial arts, culinary arts, visual arts, language arts, and other arts that fit our extensive definition of The Arts.”
Efforts to make children more aware of drag queens have included Lego’s offering an LGBTQ+ set called “Everyone Is Awesome” that consisted of 11 figures, all but one of which had no gender assigned, while the only one with a specific gender represented “the fabulous drag queens out there,” according to the designer, Matthew Ashton, who also happened to be the vice president of design at the toymaker.
Ashton said of the purple drag queen figure that it was “a clear nod to all the fabulous drag queens out there.”
Ashton told The Guardian, “Growing up as an LGBTQ+ kid – being told what I should play with, how I should walk, how I should talk, what I should wear – the message I always got was that somehow I was ‘wrong.’ Trying to be someone I wasn’t was exhausting. I wish, as a kid, I had looked at the world and thought: ‘This is going to be OK, there’s a place for me.’ I wish I’d seen an inclusive statement that said ‘everyone is awesome.’”
“I wanted to create a model that symbolizes inclusivity and celebrates everyone, no matter how they identify or who they love,” he continued. “Everyone is unique, and with a little more love, acceptance and understanding in the world, we can all feel more free to be our true AWESOME selves! This model shows that we care, and that we truly believe ‘Everyone is awesome!’”