In Bangor, Maine, parents are finding that their children’s education is being focused on topics that some may consider inappropriate. Bangor High School recently paid $1,000 to a drag queen performer named Priscilla Poppycocks, whose real name is Dominick Varney, to speak to students about his experiences as a gay individual in Maine. This expenditure was defended by school administrators as part of their efforts to support and empower LGBTQ+ students. However, one may question whether promoting homosexuality should be the main focus of public schools.
The payment to Varney came from a grant of $15,000 from the Nellie Mae Education Foundation, which aims to advance racial equity in public education. While racial inequality has significantly diminished since the passage of the Civil Rights Act, this foundation insists on applying a “racial equity lens” to analyze and address enduring problems. In reality, this often involves blaming white people and demanding special privileges for people of color. It is unclear how Varney’s presentation on growing up gay in Maine aligns with these objectives, as his focus was not on racial issues but on his personal experiences as an LGBTQ+ individual.
The event allowed students to be excused from class to attend the workshop, which lasted 90 minutes and featured acting techniques and a singing performance by Varney. The emphasis on celebrating and learning from drag queens reinforces the idea that being different, particularly in terms of sexuality, is the ultimate advantage and a path to success. However, this narrow focus on sexual orientation may come at the expense of core subjects such as math, science, and history.
The consequences of such education policies are becoming apparent. A recent report highlighted that the number of students identifying as LGBTQ+ at Brown University has doubled since 2010, approaching nearly 40%. When young people are consistently taught that being homosexual is courageous and heroic, it is not surprising that more individuals may identify as LGBTQ+. It is worth considering that countries like China, Russia, and Iran do not promote drag queens in their schools, yet courageous acts are still recognized and celebrated.
Ultimately, there will be a clash between these competing visions of education and society. The focus on identity politics and sexual orientation in American schools is unlikely to prevail when compared to societies that prioritize values such as bravery and heroism. It is crucial to reassess the priorities in education and ensure a more balanced approach that encompasses a broader range of subjects and perspectives.