The Scotsman

Drag queens in story hour bid to battle LGBT prejudices

US approach to be used in attempt to raise awareness of LGBT issues


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 students, 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.”

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

“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 controver- sial 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.

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 that the 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 forschoolc­ommunities­todiscuss 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.”

 ?? PICTURE; NYT ?? Harmonica Sunbeam warms up her audience in a New York library
PICTURE; NYT Harmonica Sunbeam warms up her audience in a New York library

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