The faculty at Central Park School of Children in Durham, N.C., noticed that their LGBTQ students were getting bullied and didn’t feel a part of the school.
“We were seeing data that our LGBTQ students were experiencing direct and indirect bullying,” Taylor Schmidt, an eighth-grade social studies teacher at CPSC, told TODAY Parents. “More still needed to be done.”
So what did the school do? They brought in local drag queens for the school’s first-ever Pride and Liberation Event. Teachers felt that introducing the students to LGBTQ people in the community and talking about bullying openly would help create a better atmosphere.
Vivica C. Coxx of the House of Coxx performed “Big, Blonde and Beautiful” from “Hairspray” in front of the middle school students and the crowd went wild.
The event didn’t stop there. There were more drag and step performances along with LGBTQ history and identity and an open talk about bullying for fifth through eighth-grade students. The kindergarten through fourth-grade students had drag queen reading hour with Stormie Daie.
According to TODAY Parents, the kids wanted to know how Daie’s eyelashes got so long and they thought she was the prettiest woman they had met.
The school also brought in local LGBTQ leaders, such as Vernetta Alston, an openly gay city council person, and Helena Cragg, the executive director of the LGBTQ Center of Durham.
On top of the event, throughout this school year teachers have been talking more about LGBTQ figures in the classroom and including them in lessons, such as Alan Turing, Marsha P. Johnson, James Baldwin, and Sally Ride.
Since the event on May 13, teachers say that the event has already reduced bullying and more kids are defending their LGBTQ peers or even coming out of the closet.
“Kids who haven’t had a voice … feel safe to speak up. The school has been lifted all week. It has felt like a different vibe,” Schmidt told TODAY Parents.