- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 23, 2018

A Colorado middle school principal apologized Monday after parents found out that a professional drag queen spoke to their children on “career day.”

Zack Sullivan, known professionally as Jessica L’Whor, read a chapter from the Suzy Kline book “Horrible Harry’” and talked about bullying at the career day event Friday at Rocky Top Middle School in Thornton. He later told local Fox affiliate KDVR that he introduced himself to the students as Ms. Jessica because he didn’t think the last name was appropriate in that setting.

Parents expressed concern over the event, mainly because they weren’t notified ahead of time that Mr. Sullivan would be speaking to their children.

“This person is an adult entertainer and is talking to 12-year-old students about something that’s adult nature,” parent Heather Rogers told KDVR.

“I was pretty appalled,” added parent Jen Payer. “It was a shock because no one was notified.”

“Parents are in an outrage, and this is so inappropriate on so many levels,” another parent told CBS 4.

District spokesperson Joe Ferdani defended the appearance as representing the diversity of the work field but admitted that the school should have notified parents first.

“The school’s focus is to have an event that is representative of the diverse backgrounds and careers in the community,” Mr. Ferdani said.

“Parents should have known in advance who was going to be speaking, and that didn’t happen in this particular situation,” he acknowledged. “Parents just needed to have more info, and context about what was going to be talked about, and some background on this individual, and they weren’t given that information.”

Principal Chelsea Behanna sent a letter to parents Monday promising to send them a guest list ahead of next year’s event.

“I take responsibility for not notifying families ahead of time and apologize for any stress this has caused you and your child,” she said. “Moving forward, a prominent step in planning for next year will be to share the guest list for all families prior to the event. Should you feel like any of the sessions are not appropriate for your child, you’ll be welcome to notify us and we’ll make alternate arrangements for your child during that time.”

Mr. Sullivan, who works as a full-time drag queen at Hamburger Mary’s in Denver, said he knew the appearance would be controversial but wouldn’t allow it to be a deterrent to helping children speak out about bullying.

“I had a couple kids that were like, ‘I’m gay in school and I get bullied every week and I don’t know what to do and just talking to you helped me realize that I can still be me and still be happy,’” Mr. Sullivan said. “I got messages being like thank you so much for coming to my class. I was having a really horrible week and you made my day.”

“I want to go to more elementary schools because of this experience at Rocky Top. I’ve already reached out to a couple people about how to develop a Ted Talk,” he told Fox 31.

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