This drag show grant for Whatcom Middle School draws criticism on conservative media

National conservative media is again targeting Bellingham Public Schools over its efforts to foster equity, diversity and inclusion in its teaching — this time over a proposed drag show at Whatcom Middle School.

But so far, school staff and officials aren’t seeing the same kind of harassment that followed a parent’s complaint last year about a picture book read in class that featured a transgender girl, a school official said.

“Like all events in our schools, policies and practices ensure the drag/talent show will be behaviorally appropriate,” Bellingham schools spokeswoman Dana Smith told The Bellingham Herald.

As a performance event, drag shows are closely associated with the gay-rights movement but not necessarily always queer or trans in nature, said Josh Cerretti, an associate professor of history at Western Washington University and interim director of the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies program. Drag dates as far back as Shakespeare’s Globe Theater, when actors dressed in gender-bending attire, and it has gained popularity recently, mainly because of the TV series “RuPaul’s Drag Race.”

“By looking at the history of drag, we can look at the history of oppression against lesbians and gays,” Cerretti told The Herald.

So-called drag queens and drag kings were the vanguard of the gay-rights movement, challenging “suffocating norms” even before the famed Stonewall Riot, Cerretti said.

“Putting on a drag show at a middle school is no more inappropriate than putting on a Shakespeare show of ‘Romeo and Juliet,’ which is inherently about sexuality,” Cerretti said.


Tuesday, April 19, 2022 - 9:28am