‘Bring drag queens to primary schools to challenge stereotypes’

A drag queen called Tormenta takes part in the 17th annual gay pride parade in Chile. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)
A drag queen called Tormenta takes part in the 17th annual gay pride parade in Chile. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)
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Bringing drag queens into Scotland’s primary schools for story hours with pupils could be an ideal way to challenge gender stereotypes, the head of a leading Scottish inclusion group has said.

Drag Queen Story Hour, an initiative gathering momentum in the US is coming to Britain with schemes being developed in Birmingham and Bristol.

Jordan Daly of TIE, (Time for Inclusive Education), the campaign group aiming to tackle prejudices around LGBT issues in Scotland’s schools, says drag queens are a “fun and energetic” way to challenge gender stereotypes, as long as they are age and stage appropriate for pupils.

Spearheaded by Bristol law student, the scheme involves drag queens reading from a book they enjoyed as children, followed by a song with a drag twist and a reading from a feminist fairy tale such as The Boy Princess.

Other examples include the song ‘The Wheels on the Bus’ tweaked to include the words “the skirt on the drag queen goes: swish, swish, swish.”

MR Daly said: “With a campaign like our where the issue can be controversial you have to be provocative, quite blunt and in your face.

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“For people like us who are campaigning on LGBT issues the concept of a drag queen story hour is not controversial.

“But I can see how it could be provocative or controversial for some people.”

Mr Daly added: “Using drag queens like this is a fun and colourful way of challenging rigid gender stereotypes.

Mick Connell, of the National Association for the Teaching of English, said he welcomes the initiative but says it is hard to predict how schools will react to it.

Drag Queen Story hour originated in San Francisco and has had many positive reviews from parents.

A spokeswoman for the Educational Institute of Scotland(EIS), the country’s largest teaching union, said drag queen story hour would need to be part of a planned approach and that schools would want to decide for themselves whether to adopt it.

“The EIS believes it is important to challenge gender stereotypes in schools and for this to be done in a planned and systematic way.

“The initiative referred to may well be a useful approach within a planned programme but that would be for school communities to discuss and decide on.

“In terms of promoting reading, as in the Bristol project, making books come alive is certainly one way to engage young readers.”