Bigoted teachers punish heartbroken student for going to drag brunch: ‘How is it immoral?’

Three drag queens on a stage performing wearing pink dresses.

A student who celebrated her 18th birthday at a drag show was punished for “immorality” and told her actions were worse than a Nazi salute.

In January, Rustenburg High School student Desiré Duvenage went with friends to the Pretoria branch of Beefcakes, a chain of LGBTQ+ restaurant and drag show venues in South Africa

A video of a drag queen grinding on Duvenage during the celebration was posted on social media by one of her friends.

Duvenage thought nothing of it. She told Mamba Online that her birthday was “fantastic”, “amazing” and she “enjoyed it”.

In July, a teacher at the Cape Town school told Duvenage that the video painted a “negative” light for the school and they didn’t “want this getting into the media”.

The teacher punished Duvenage by stripping her of her role as chairperson of The Land Service (Landsdiens in Afrikaans), a national organisation focusing on youth leadership and protecting the environment.

Duvenage was heartbroken as the group was an important part of her life.

“I started crying because I was so upset,” she said. “Land Service was my everything. I met so many people because of it. I worked so hard for it, so how can they just take it away from me?”

A crowd protesting against the exclusion of drag queens. One person holds a sign that says, "Drag queens welcome here"

Drag shows worldwide have begun to be painted negatively (Martin Pope/Getty Images)

In the meeting, Duvenage discussed a recent scandal in which students were filmed performing Nazi salutes and singing a German war song.

She asked a teacher whether her video was “as bad as that”. The teacher said Duvenage’s was “worse”.

“She said that the Nazi video was quite innocent and playful, that it was not meant to be harmful and my video is much worse.” Duvenage added: “I was speechless.”

Duvenage’s godmother, Melanie van Aarde, is a paralegal. She contacted the chairperson of the North West chapter of the Land Service, Elise Kleynhans, who confirmed Duvenage’s “unacceptable” actions were viewed “in a serious light”.

Kelynhans added that Desiree was found guilty by the school of breaching the Land Service code of conduct with a “Category A” offence (the most serious category) for “immorality”, as reported by Mamba Online.

Duvenage states “plain homophobia” is behind her suspension from the Land Service.

“I think it’s because it’s a man dressed as a woman. What a scandal! And also because Beefcakes is an LGBTQ+ safe space,” she added.

Duvenage is confused why the school considers going to a drag show is immoral.

“I wasn’t behaving immorally. How is going to a drag show immoral? I would like a chance to actually represent myself, and know that I tried to get back what I earned and deserve.” Duvenage said.

Rustenburg High School did not respond to PinkNews.

Drag shows have recently become a topic of contention worldwide, with lawmakers and anti-LGBTQ+ activists targeting shows catering to families and young people.

In the US, RuPaul slammed Republicans for their attempts to ban kids from drag shows. The Drag Race host called it a “diversion tactic” to turn the conversation away from gun issues.