New York City has been spending heavily on sending drag queens into its public elementary schools, dropping more than $200,000 on appearances since 2018.
Just last month, records show the city paying $46,000 to send Drag Story Hour NYC to public schools, libraries, and street festivals, according to the New York Post.
Some parents say the programs were booked without their consent, while city officials have responded with outrage, according to the Post.
The news comes as debates rage across the country about how gender identity and young children should interact.
A photo of a drag queen reading to kids from Drag Story Hour NYC. New York City has spent over $200,000 since 2018 hiring the organization for events at public schools
NYC has spent $46,000 hiring drag queens to read to students at public schools in 2022 alone
In 2022 alone, Drag Story Hour NYC has made 49 appearances at 34 public schools in New York City, according to its website.
The organization characterizes itself as promoting inclusivity, creativity, and acceptance of the self in children, by exposing them to drag queens reading similarly thematic books.
‘Through fun and fabulous educational experiences, our programs celebrate gender diversity and all forms of difference to build empathy and give kids the confidence to express themselves however they feel comfortable,’ the website reads.
Images from the site show people dressed in bedazzled dresses, shimmering wigs, and heavy eye shadow, reading to young children in classroom, and even helping the kids apply makeup themselves.
A drag performer from Drag Story Hour NYC reading to children at an event. Parents told the New York Post that the events happened at their children’s school often without parental consent
A performer showing off some of the books read to children at drag events at public schools. The books tend to be about gender fluid topics
The company has received $207,000 from taxpayers since 2018, records show. $50,000 of that has come from the New York State Council on the Arts, and the other $157,000 from the NYC Department of Education, the Department of Youth and Community Development, the Department of Transportation, and Cultural Affairs.
The funds were provided by city council members, with $80,000 being allocated for drag programs in 2022 alone – over three times as much as was provided in 2020 for drag programs.
‘I can’t believe this. I am shocked,’ Helen Qiu, the mother of a Manhattan middle school student, told the Post, ‘I would be furious if he was exposed without my consent. This is not part of the curriculum.’
The funds were provided by city council members, with $80,000 being allocated for drag programs in 2022 alone – over three times as much as was provided in 2020 for drag programs
$50,000 in funding came from the New York State Council on the Arts, and the other $157,000 from the NYC Department of Education, the Department of Youth and Community Development, the Department of Transportation, and Cultural Affairs
But some parents say that the drag programs have taken place without their consent, and that they only learned about them after their kids came home from school and mentioned them.
‘I didn’t get any notice, my daughter actually came home and told me that a drag queen came to the school,’ said PS 191 parent Reese Harrington. ‘I feel like it would have been better for that conversation to happen at home.’
Storm Neverson, the parent of nine and six-year-old girls at the STAR academy, expressed concerns about schools exposing young children to drag queens.
‘If they were in junior high school or middle school, I would be okay with that because I feel like they would have a little bit more understanding,’ said Neverson. ‘At this time, the kids were just a little too young.’
Neverson said that she was told that the program was happening, but that she was not asked if she thought it was okay.
‘It was mostly just like a heads up, you know, like, “Hey, this event is coming up. We’re gonna have these people come in.” And that was that,’ Neverson said.
Some parents say that the drag programs have taken place without their consent, and that they only learned about them after their kids came home from school and mentioned them
A book read to school children by performers from Drag Story Hour NYC. ‘If You’re a Drag Queen You Know it’ is just one of many thematic books read by the program
Queens City Council member Vicki Paladino responded with outrage over news of the city’s drag queen expenses.
‘I am considering pulling funding to any school in my district that is implementing Drag Queen Story Hour,’ Paladino said, ‘We are taking hundreds of thousands of dollars out of the pockets of hardworking New York taxpayers… to fund a program teaching little children about their gender fluidity? Note. Front. my. watch.’
The Department of Education defended the city’s expenses on the drag queen appearances at schools, characterizing them as helping prevent violence against transgender people.
‘Last year, 50 transgender or gender-nonconforming people were killed in the United States due to their identity,’ spokeswoman Suzan Sumer told the Post, ‘We believe our schools play a critical role in helping young people learn about and respect people who may be different from them.’
A drag queen performing at the ‘Drag Your Kids to Pride’ event at a Dallas gay night club on Saturday, June 4. Children can be seen sitting on stools lining the runway
A kid handing over dollar bills to drag performers at the Mr. Misser gay nightclub at a family drag show on Saturday, June 4
News of the program comes as debates and controversies swirl across the country about the role of gender-identity exposure and education to children.
Just last week, a Dallas gay bar threw a pride month event that invited kids to join drag queens on stage beneath a pink neon sign reading ‘It’s not gonna lick itself.’
In March, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into a parental rights bill that bans teachers from giving classroom instruction on ‘sexual orientation’ or ‘gender identity’ in kindergarten through third grade.
In April, a Tennessee lawmaker said he would ‘burn’ banned books if he could, as books about gender identity top the lists of banned titles at schools across the country.
In May, a Florida mother sued her daughter’s school after teachers created a ‘transgender support plan’ for her daughter without asking for parental consent.
This month, even Pizza Hut was pulled into the debate after it promoted a children’s book that featured a little boy who dresses in drag.
Also this month, DeSantis moved to ban transition therapies for children and revoke Medicaid support for trans adults’ treatments in Florida.
That includes suspending access to ‘puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones and surgeries’.
‘Florida must do more to protect children from politics-based medicine,’ wrote state surgeon general Joseph Lapado, who DeSantis appointed to his post in February.
‘Otherwise, children and adolescents in our state will continue to face a substantial risk of long-term harm.’