Florida’s “don’t say gay” law continues to harm queer and trans students in Florida as access to stories about experiences by people like drag performers is stifled by state school administrators.
Now an Orlando-area high school’s Queer and Ally Alliance was scheduled to have a guest speaker in drag share their experience as a person with students, but after intervention by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’s education department, the school principal announced that the conversation was canceled.
After parents and community members caught wind that the LGBTQ-affirming student group planned to host a “Drag & Donuts” event, they raised concerns with officials about the event’s decency.
For the previous two years, the group has been permitted to and succeeded in hosting “Drag & Donuts” at Boone High School.
The event seeks to allow students to have a snack and listen to people share their life experiences to broaden kids’ horizons about people’s differences.
The after-school program was supposed to be a talk by Jason DeShazo, or Momma Ashley Rose, about his journey as a queer person.
This year’s educational enrichment opportunity was scheduled for Thursday.
But students were informed that the event would not happen after Florida Department of Education representatives contacted school officials to discuss whether the subject was appropriate, the school’s principal, Hector Maestre, told parents in a voicemail sent to families of students, Orlando NBC affiliate WESH reported.
DeSantis’s education department threatened school officials that if the event moved forward, an investigation would be launched into anybody’s involvement, and those found to be in violation could face revocation of their teaching license.
Maestre did not respond to The Advocate’s request for comment.
As late as Tuesday, the student group posted an ad about the event on Instagram.
“QAA is excited to announce our annual Drag and Donuts event with @mommaashleyrose! Hope to see you all this Thursday in the Media Center,” they wrote.
On Wednesday morning, Orange County Public Schools board member Alicia Farrant penned a message on Facebook voicing her disgust with the event.
“I have been made aware of a drag queen event that will be happening at one of our High Schools. I am looking into this to get further details but would like parents to know that I do NOT condone this type of event. We need to be RAISING the standard of excellence in our schools and helping students excel academically, not inviting drag queens in to eat donuts with our children,” she wrote.
“The hate and violent rhetoric directed toward me and my organization, as well as the educators and staff at Boone High School, are completely unacceptable and shouldn’t be rewarded,” DeShazo said. “This is a very dangerous path we are heading down, and we should all be concerned about the threat to our rights and those of our most vulnerable family, friends, and neighbors.”