School district apologizes after parents say club hosted after-school drag show

Maddie Hanna
The Philadelphia Inquirer (TNS)

A Lancaster County school district says it's investigating and has placed a staffer on administrative leave following what parents described as an after-school drag show hosted by a high school Gay Sexuality Alliance club.

In a statement to the community, the Hempfield School District said it was notified of photos and videos posted online of a performance that took place after school at Hempfield High School on April 25.

"We are appalled at what took place and in no way condone this type of activity in our schools," the district said. "Neither the dress of the invited guests nor the performance was appropriate in our school setting."

The district's school board also released a statement, saying it was "deeply concerned about recent allegations" regarding the performance.

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LancasterOnline reported Friday that parents on Facebook had originally drawn attention to the event, which it said "featured dancers in tight-fitting and revealing clothing with exposed buttocks." It said Harrisburg100, a website, had first reported on the event.

Parent Meridith Hilt told LancasterOnline her objection was to the dancers' dress and style of performance: "It wouldn't make a difference to me if it was a woman doing this. It's irrelevant that they are drag queens, it's the type of the performance at the school."

Another parent, Melissa Taylor, told the news organization she felt the teacher affiliated with the club was "trying to provide a safe environment" for students, and she accused parents who were critical of the event but didn't have children involved of "hurting the kids in that club and the teacher."

News of the event has spread through conservative media. The social media account Libs of TikTok — which has more than a million Twitter followers and has repeatedly accused teachers of "grooming" kids — on Friday posted a video that it said was taken during the performance, while Fox News published a report Saturday. The 41-second Libs of TikTok video shown on Fox showed four people in leotards dancing on what appears to be a stage.

The district said it would "commit to completing a thorough investigation and holding those involved accountable, up to and including disciplinary action that is commensurate with any findings." It did not provide details about the person it had placed on leave pending its investigation.

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